Voters in South Dakota approved Amendment A, which will legalize recreational use of marijuana for those 21 years and older. It will legalize possession or distribution of up to one ounce of the drug. It will also require the state legislature to pass laws providing for a medical marijuana program and the sale of hemp.
The measure, which passed 53%-47%, was opposed by the South Dakota bishops.
“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,” they said. “Thus, we can understand that to directly intend to suppress our God-given rational faculties is gravely wrong.”
The bishops warned that in Seattle and Denver, where marijuana businesses are legal, they are disproportionately located in poorer neighborhoods. According to one analysis, they said, every dollar raised in marijuana sales costs $4.50 in unwanted effects, primarily in healthcare and reduced workforce readiness.
In Montana, voters approved two measures that will legalize recreational marijuana in the state.
Constitutional Initiative 118 will change the state’s constitution to allow adults age 21 and up to purchase recreational marijuana, and Initiative 190 creates a framework to legalize and regulate marijuana use, creating a 20% tax on non-medical marijuana and allowing counties to ban dispensaries.
Both measures passed by roughly 57%-43% of the vote.
The bishops of Montana opposed the measure as “a threat to the flourishing of individual persons - particularly, the young, the poor, and those who struggle with either substance abuse or mental health challenges.”
They stressed that since Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012, the state has seen a higher prevalence of marijuana use in suicides.
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“Publications link marijuana use with cognitive impairment, lung damage and an increased risk of psychotic disorders (among other concerns),” the bishops said. “Legalization of recreational marijuana will only exacerbate the already serious mental health crisis gripping our state.”
In Arizona, citizens approved Proposition 207, which will both allow persons 21 and older to possess one ounce of marijuana and provide for the legal sale of the drug.
Also known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, the measure passed 60%-40%, with 85% of results reported.
The Arizona Catholic Conference had criticized the proposal, saying it would send the message to children that “drug use is socially and morally acceptable.”
“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 warned in a Sept. 23 statement.