Like the bishops of Oregon, the South Dakota Catholic Conference cited Pope Francis' June 2014 remarks to drug enforcement agencies. The conference also noted the Catechism of the Catholic Church's paragraph 2291, which teaches that drug use "inflicts very grave damage on human health and life."
The conference said on its website that marijuana use overstimulates the nervous system while also decreasing high-functioning rational thought.
"Often these effects are accompanied by others, including distorted sensory perception or hallucinations, irrational anxiety or panic, diminished motor control and slowed reactions, and reduced learning and memory," South Dakota's bishops said. "Studies have shown that impaired cognitive function continues into the workweek even after a person no longer feels intoxicated, and that regular users are at approximately twice the risk of developing psychosis as non-users."
"Human beings are endowed by God with the gift of reason. Reason aids us in differentiating between right and wrong and is foundational for human freedom and personal responsibility," the bishops continued. "Thus, we can understand that to directly intend to suppress our God-given rational faculties is gravely wrong."
They warned that in Seattle and Denver, where marijuana businesses are legal, they are disproportionately located in poorer neighborhoods. According to another analysis, every dollar raised in marijuana sales costs $4.50 in unwanted effects, primarily in healthcare and reduced workforce readiness.
In Arizona, the bishops of the Arizona Catholic Conference criticized Proposition 207, called the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, which would both allow persons 21 and older to possess one ounce of marijuana and provide for the legal sale of the drug.
"It is anticipated that legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Arizona will lead to more abuse by teens, increase child fatalities, and result in more societal costs," the Arizona bishops said in a Sept. 23 statement.
Legalization would send the message to children that "drug use is socially and morally acceptable," they warned. Marijuana use is 25% higher among teens in states with legalized recreational marijuana, they said.
Self-reported use of Arizona middle- and high-schoolers has already increased because fewer youth believe it is risky, said the bishops. Marijuana is a direct or contributing factor in almost as many child deaths as alcohol, according to the state's most recent child fatality report.
"As people of faith, we must speak out against this effort and the damaging effects its passage would have on children and families," the Arizona bishops said.
They cited the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area's September 2019 report on the effects of marijuana legalization in Colorado under a November 2012 ballot measure. That report found that Colorado traffic deaths, crime, emergency room visits, and youth usage of marijuana increased significantly in the period of 2013 to 2015, the first two years following the legalization of recreational pot.
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In Mississippi, Initiative 65 would license and regulate marijuana dispensaries and allow a patient to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana to treat any of 22 conditions.
The American Medical Association said there is a "lack of rigorous medical evidence to support cannabis as a medical treatment" that is a good alternative to FDA-approved drugs. The Mississippi proposal would require state health officials to create "new complex agriculture and revenue programs" that divert resources from its public health focus, the association said.
"Amending a state constitution to legalize an unproven drug is the wrong approach," Susan R. Bailey, MD, president of the American Medical Association, said Oct. 8. "Early data from jurisdictions that have legalized cannabis are concerning, particularly around unintentional pediatric exposures that have resulted in increased calls to poison control centers and emergency department visits, as well as an increase in traffic deaths due to cannabis-related impaired driving."
The Mississippi State Medical Association also opposes the measure.
If approved by voters, fees on dispensaries would fund only the medical marijuana oversight program. The language prohibits revenue from going into the state's general fund.
Critics say the fees are extremely low and the amendment fails to restrict the number of marijuana businesses. They also argue the amendment could trump local zoning laws. Pot dispensaries are barred within 500 feet of a school, church or child care center, but the language says zoning ordinances on dispensaries must be no more restrictive than they are on pharmacies and "shall not impair the availability of and reasonable access to medical marijuana."