Arizona Catholic Conference Bishops’ statement opposing the legalization of recreational marijuana

Marijuana plants for sale are displayed at the medical marijuana farmers' market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles in this July 11, 2014 file photo. (CNS photo/David McNew, Reuters)
Marijuana plants for sale are displayed at the medical marijuana farmers’ market at the California Heritage Market in Los Angeles in this July 11, 2014 file photo. (CNS photo/David McNew, Reuters)

The Bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference oppose the campaign to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Arizona because it is harmful to both children and families in Arizona.

Legalizing the recreational use of marijuana sends a message to children and young people that drug use is socially and morally acceptable. As people of faith, we must speak out against this effort and the damaging effects its passage would have on the children and families of Arizona.

Studies have shown that adolescents who use marijuana have significant differences in brain structure and cognitive functioning compared to those who do not use marijuana and experience up to an eight-point drop in IQ. Furthermore, based on what happened in just two years after Colorado legalized marijuana, it is estimated that if Arizona passes this measure, tens of thousands of additional 8th graders here will smoke marijuana for the first time.

EN ESPAÑOL: Declaración de los Obispos de la Conferencia Católica de Arizona en oposición a la legalización de la marihuana para uso recreativo


Marijuana-related traffic accidents and other problems are also likely to dramatically increase if recreational marijuana use is legalized. In Colorado for example, marijuana-related traffic deaths dramatically increased after recreational marijuana was legalized. Additionally, Colorado witnessed similar dramatic increases in hospitalizations and emergency room visits related to marijuana usage after recreational use was legalized.

In states that have legalized marijuana, there has also been an increase in the use of harder drugs like cocaine and heroin since marijuana was legalized, which only further increased societal costs.

For the reasons mentioned above, and others, it is anticipated that legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Arizona will lead to more abuse by teens, more emergency room visits, more traffic deaths, and more societal costs. Accordingly, due to the detrimental effect it would have on children, families, and all of society, we strongly oppose this dangerous proposal.

Most Rev. Gerald F. Kicanas
Bishop of Tucson

Most Rev. Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix

Most Rev. James S. Wall
Bishop of Gallup

Most Rev. Eduardo A. Nevares
Auxiliary Bishop of Phoenix


  1. It is a shame our church doesn’t see the truth before them.
    I lost my father to alcohol abuse and misuse, as many others have. We lose someone to opiate overodose every twenty minutes.
    The Colorado Healthy Kids Report came out last week and tells us teens in Colorado are using less marijuana, alcohol, and other drugs than the national average. @dougducey It’s a shame they don’t understand Colorado teens use less marijuana than the national average.
    Traffic fatalities are at an historic low in Colorado. We are saving lives in states with legal marijuana.

    Marijuana is the one substance that has never taken a life on record.

    As a Catholic, I stand for life. I would hope our Catholic clergy would do the same.

  2. The claim about traffic fatalities is entirely made up.

    Between 2006 and July 2013, the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment tested for THC in the blood of drivers involved in fatal car accidents in Colorado. If the driver had a THC level of 2 nanograms per milliliter (ng/ml) or higher, the death was classified as “marijuana related”.

    In 2012, there were 78 such deaths. Between January and July 2013, DPH counted 71 such deaths and then discontinued testing.

    THC remains in the bloodstream at those low concentrations for days or weeks after the effects of marijuana have completely worn off.

    RMHIDTA resumed the testing in 2014, but dropped the threshold for what it counted as “marijuana related” by half — from 2 ng/ml to just 1 ng/ml. Unsurprisingly, the number of “positive” tests jumped up to 94.

    While 94 is, in fact, a number that is 32 percent higher than 71, the report does not actually show an increase in drugged driving deaths – the report manipulated both the numbers and the public by comparing 71 of one thing (drivers tested at 2ng/ml over just seven months in one year) with 94 of a completely different thing (drivers tested at 1ng/ml over the full 12 months in another year).


  3. There is absolutely no doubt now that the majority of Americans want to completely legalize marijuana nationwide. Our numbers grow on a daily basis.

    The prohibitionist view on marijuana is the viewpoint of a minority and rapidly shrinking percentage of Americans. It is based upon decades of lies and propaganda.

    Each and every tired old lie they have propagated has been thoroughly proven false by both science and society.

    Their tired old rhetoric no longer holds any validity. The vast majority of Americans have seen through the sham of marijuana prohibition in this day and age. The number of prohibitionists left shrinks on a daily basis.

    With their credibility shattered, and their not so hidden agendas visible to a much wiser public, what’s left for a marijuana prohibitionist to do?

    Maybe, just come to terms with the fact that Marijuana Legalization Nationwide is an inevitable reality that’s approaching much sooner than prohibitionists think, and there is nothing they can do to stop it!

    Legalize Nationwide!…and Support All Marijuana Legalization Efforts!

  4. These are slippery slope arguments that are not related to the actual policy proposal. This policy does not permit individuals under the age of 21 to purchase marijuana. This policy does not permit driving while impaired. These are individual issues that can be solved in better manners than a total prohibition. I would appreciate it if you would refrain from imposing your religion upon me.


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