We're two weeks out from the Nov. 8 election and the Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy have been kicking their "No on 205" campaign into high gear with a slew of ads filled with misleading information and flat out lies to dissuade voters from passing a law that would be part of any real responsible drug policy.
With the amount of purported "facts" released by the ARDP, it's time for another installment of fact checks!
Colorado teens lead the nation in teen marijuana use:
Let's start with the ad featuring former Colorado Governor Bill Owens and former Denver Mayor Wellington Webb in No on Prop 205's "Mistake."
Owens starts with favorite, "Colorado teens now lead the nation in teen marijuana use." We've heard this one before. By itself, it is actually a true statement. Though according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, D.C., Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington give Colorado a run for its money.
What I can only assume slipped Owens' mind is the fact that Colorado has always had the highest teen marijuana use in the country, even before legalization. He also failed to mention the 2015 Healthy Kids Colorado survey, which suggests that teen use has dropped since 2009 and only increased by 1 percent between 2013 and 2015.
Okay, that one was easy. What else have they got?
Marijuana edibles are marketed to children:
The ad then goes on to show edible marijuana candies styled in the fashion of Kit-Kat Bars, Twix and Butterfingers. Perhaps it's childish of me to enjoy a candy bar every once in a while, but I'm not sure candy qualifies as being solely marketed to children.
It's a good thing for Owens that every state that has legalized recreation marijuana prohibits the sale to those under the age of 21.
It's conceivable that a stoned parent may unwittingly leave a "KeefKat" bar on the kitchen counter to be stumbled upon by a candy-craving kiddo, but is a hungry, happy, sleepy child the worst thing in the world? Let's see what the ARDP has to say about exposure to children.
Fifty percent of newborns test positive for marijuana:
Later in the ad, Webb says 50 percent of newborns test positive for marijuana. This number comes from the only anti-marijuana study that's come out of Colorado since legalization: the infamous Rocky Mountain High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area report.
The figure only comes from one hospital. St. Mary-Corwin Medical Center located in Pueblo, Colorado, tests newborns when reasonably suspicious of the mother's drug consumption. That 50 percent amounts to five whole babies.
According to the Denver Post, 52 babies were born at St. Mary-Corwin in March, 11 were tested for drugs and five tested positive for marijuana.
We're not making light of infant exposure to marijuana. The effects of marijuana use on unborn babies is still in development, but in order to seriously address these issues, we need to be a little more serious about our facts.
Marijuana-related traffic deaths increased 62 percent:
I had a little trouble with this one since it seems at this point the ARDP is just spouting numbers like trying to guess the number of jelly beans in a jar. In another ad they used 32 percent and the Rocky Mountain HIDTA report says 67 percent. Owens tells us it's 62 percent, but the number isn't important.
Data is hard, so let's try to explain this one with some other examples:
In 2006, the nation saw an increase in the percentage of drivers in fatal car accidents who were listening to Justin Timberlake's "SexyBack" at the time of the incident.
Following Apple's release of the iPhone in 2008, the number of accidents in which the driver had a smart phone shot up dramatically.
Most recently, the number of fatal crashes where the driver supported Donald Trump for president sky-rocketed after he announced his campaign in 2015.
See the problem?
We have yet to find a way to detect marijuana intoxication in users aside from how quickly they down a serving of McDonald's fries. Since THC can stay in your system anywhere from days to weeks depending on a variety of variables, we can't say for sure whether or not marijuana was a contributing factor in any traffic-related fatalities.
This is the type of fact that makes people shout out "correlation does not imply causation"—it's one of those phrases you memorize in school like, "In 1442 Columbus sailed the ocean blue," just one is inherently more useful and slightly less annoying.
The list goes on and it's not difficult to discern how the ARDP's crusade against legal pot might affect their analysis. For a fun exercise, take anyone of their commercials and simply Google their "facts." This is one smokescreen that's not difficult to see through.