North Dakota Catholic Conference says no to Measure 2, organizers respond

File: Church
File: Church(WLBT)
Published: Oct. 30, 2022 at 6:10 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - The North Dakota Catholic Conference issued a statement from Bismarck Bishop David Kagan saying to vote no on Measure 2. According to multiple sources, the statement was read in churches across North Dakota.

If passed, Measure 2 would legalize recreational marijuana in the state.

Former Fargo representative Ron Iverson responded saying: “As a former Christian missionary and man of faith, I believe the core of our faith is compassion. Tens of thousands of North Dakotans have had their lives derailed by receiving a criminal record for a simple mistake.”

According to the statement, the Bishop said: Proponents of Measure 2 have made various claims in support of the measure, such as “legalization is inevitable,” “this is better than a constitutional amendment,” “it might provide tax revenue,” or “personal freedom.” The only question, however, is whether Measure 2 advances the common good in North Dakota or poses a threat to families, children, and the community, especially the most vulnerable. If the answer to this question is the latter, then none of these claims can justify its passage.

The experience of others states that have legalized marijuana shows that legalization does more harm than good, especially when it comes to the health, safety, and well-being of our families and children.

The problems with recreational marijuana are well-documented. States with recreational legalization have the highest teen usage rates. When recreational use for adults is legalized, youth increasingly believe that marijuana is not harmful, despite medical evidence that marijuana has a greater negative impact on youth than adults. Colorado has seen increased addiction and suicide. THC, not alcohol, is now the number one drug found in teens who die by suicide in Colorado. From 2016 to 2019, the rate of teen suicide in Colorado increased by 58 percent, making it the cause of one in five adolescent deaths.

Marijuana can contribute to the breakdown of the family. There is substantial evidence that when marijuana use begins before adulthood, drug dependence arises more quickly. As these individuals become parents, dependence issues can produce chaotic and stress-filled homes, which harms child well-being. Many children have been introduced to the foster care system because they were harmfully exposed to marijuana during pregnancy or childhood, or because they were exposed to dangerous living conditions while their parents were growing marijuana. During pregnancy, emerging evidence suggests “an association between marijuana and fetal growth restriction, stillbirth, and preterm birth.”

Research shows the negative impact of recreational marijuana use on health outcomes. Regular marijuana use has been connected to respiratory problems; mental health issues (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, suicidal thoughts, and social anxiety disorder), and learning, memory, and attention loss. Additionally, marijuana-related hospitalizations, emergency room visits, and poison control calls—including for those under age eight—have increased in Colorado since legalization.

Companies in states with legalized recreational marijuana have struggled to find employees who can pass drug tests, especially for federal jobs, industries that require the operation of heavy machinery, or jobs requiring truck driving. Research shows employees who tested positive for marijuana in pre-employment drug tests have higher rates of industrial accidents, injuries, and absenteeism.

California’s experience shows that rather than reducing illegal activity, legalization of marijuana has led to more illegal growing, more marijuana-related crime, more violence, worker exploitation, and environmental devastation.

Measure 2 does not advance the common good and poses harm to families, children, our most vulnerable, and the community. Instead, it signals that marijuana is safe, without regard for the families and communities it leaves behind.