The Catholic conference noted that the state is now “in the grips of the coronavirus pandemic, and said that “it would be the height of irresponsibility for the state to legalize a substance designed to be inhaled deeply into the lungs of the user at this time in particular.”
“Science has not told us yet the impact of marijuana smoke on coronavirus patients. Our health care system is poised to be flooded with patients; we must not take any action that could potentially increase bad outcomes for those who are sick.”
The conference also pointed out that coronavirus has led to the closure of the capitol to visitors.
“To pass controversial legislation on major social issues at such a time when public hearings cannot be held and advocates cannot make their case would give the impression that the voice of opposition has been silenced,” it said. “This is too important an issue for government officials to determine in the absence of full and open debate.”
The memo referred also to the arguments in its 2019 statement opposing plans to legalize recreational marijuana.
At that time, the bishops said egalization would be disastrous, and accused the state of “encouraging destructive behavior” to raise tax revenue.
Legalizing marijuana for recreational use would be akin to opening a “Pandora’s Box that will have multiple deleterious effects on individuals, families, and all of society,” said the statement.
“Vice is not an appropriate economic development engine for a state that prides itself as a national progressive leader,” said the bishops. “Our state motto is Excelsior (ever upward), but policies that exploit addiction instead lead us ever downward.”
The bishops said that no increase in state revenue would be worth the “increased teenage and childhood usage, harmful effects on developing brains, addiction, natural progression to harder drug use, increased impairment-related transportation accidents and deaths, and other potential public health and safety issues.”