Catholic Church Gives Last Minute Donation to Stop Marijuana Legalization
The Boston Archdiocese is spending $850,000 tax free dollars to try and defeat Massachusetts marijuana legalization. Poll numbers suggests that legalization will likely prevail after the Nov. 8 vote, with 49% of those polled saying yes to question 4.
Nine states have marijuana on the ballot this November. Five states, Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, are considering recreational marijuana.
What Is The Church Saying?
Catholic Church representatives from Massachusetts have vocalized their opposition of Question 4, The church wrote an open letter, in which it stated marijuana use “inflicts grave damage on human health and life,” and “is a grave offense.”
Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley says he was planning on spending a smaller amount on Anti-Marijuana legislation, but at the last minute decided the effort was worth a larger sum, Archdiocese spokesman Terrence Donilon told the Boston Globe on Friday.
“The more he thought about this and prayed about this, he thought this was the right thing to do because it directly impacts the people we’re trying to help,” he said “It reflects the fact that the archdiocese holds the matter among its highest priorities. It’s a recognition that, if passed, the law would have significantly detrimental impacts on our parishes, our ministries.”
The Archdiocese waited until the last moment to make their donation, with the media being saturated with presidential ads, it remains to be seen if the large donation will have any impact. The bishops’ contribution represents the second largest single donation against marijuana legalization. The anti-legalization campaign has raised more than $2.6 million, including the archdiocese’s contribution.
YES on 4 has raised $6.6 million so far.
Impacts of Marijuana Legalization
“We provide extensive programs, and the church has historically spoken out on issues that are both a public policy matter and also impact the wider society in terms of serving those who are truly in need,” Archdiocese Spokesperson Donilon said. “We’re convinced now more than ever that these programs will take a negative impact. It’s going to have a huge societal impact.”
One Year of Colorado Legalization Statistics From The Drug Policy Alliance
Decrease in Crime Rates
According to data released by the city of Denver, violent crime and property crime in Denver decreased in 2014.i Violent crime in Denver went down by 2.2% in the first 11 months of 2014, compared with the first 11 months of 2013. In the same period, burglaries in Denver decreased by 9.5% and overall property crime decreased by 8.9%.
Decrease in Traffic Fatalities
Traffic fatalities went down in 2014, according to data released by the Colorado Department of Transportation,vii challenging claims that the legalization of marijuana would lead to an increase in traffic fatalities. In the first 11 months of 2014, the state had 436 traffic fatalities, a 3% drop from the 449 fatalities in the first 11 months of 2013. The decline in fatalities in 2014 marks a continuation of a 12- year long downward trend in traffic fatalities in the state of Colorado.
Colorado has the fastest growing economy in the United States,ix and Colorado’s unemployment rate is at a six-year low. According to the Department of Revenue, 16,000 people were licensed to work in the marijuana industry as of December 31, 2014, though not all those with licenses may be actively working in the industry.
Data released by the state Department of Revenue reveal that tax revenue from retail marijuana sales amounted to $40.9 million between January 2014 and October 2014, not including revenue from medical marijuana and licenses and fees. Of the marijuana tax revenue already collected, the Colorado joint budget committee set aside $2.5 million to increase the number of health professionals in Colorado public schools. In November 2014, the state awarded the first $975,000 in grants to Colorado schools to be used to hire health professionals. The funds help fill a critical gap in Colorado school districts, which suffer from a shortage of school health workers due to 2011 budget cuts.v Many of the newly hired health workers, including nurses and social workers, will focus on mental health support and on programs to educate students about drug use.
Arrests and Judicial Savings
According to data from the Colorado Court System, marijuana possession arrests have dropped 84% since 2010. In 2010, 9,011 people were arrested for marijuana possession. Using the same data we are projecting 1,464 possession arrests for 2014. Given that arrests such as these cost roughly $300 to adjudicate, it is reasonable to infer that the state is saving millions in adjudicatory costs for possession cases alone in 2014 compared to 2010. Over the same period, arrests for cultivating and distributing marijuana have also dropped by more than 90%.