CHINO VALLEY, AZ- The Town of Chino Valley joined a list of local municipalities against recreational marijuana on Tuesday, March 11, 2014 when the town council passed a resolution opposing any future legalization of the drug.
The resolution, sponsored by MATFORCE, was presented by Yavapai County Attorney and MATFORCE co-chair Sheila Polk in a hope to stay ahead of an expected 2016 initiative by marijuana advocates to legalize the drug for recreational use.
“Our kids use of marijuana in Yavapai County is on the rise,” said Polk. “The reason it is on the rise is because our kids think it’s harmless. One in four high school seniors in Yavapai County is a regular user of marijuana.”
Polk said that in 2012 use of marijuana surpassed the use of cigarettes for local high school seniors.
“It is not harmless. Marijuana is an addictive substance, much more potent that it was back in the 90’s, 80’s, 70’s, and certainly the 60’s,” said Polk.
Many in attendance for Tuesdays council meeting were there to show support for the resolution, including several members of local and neighboring police departments, but a few were there to oppose the resolution.
Speaking in opposition was Paulden resident Starr Bennett, who spoke mainly on the medicinal benefits of marijuana, not the recreational use that the MATFORCE resolution specifically addressed.
Polk outlined two main reasons to approve the resolution. The first is to protect children in the community.
“The second is this. There is a group out of Washington D.C. called the Marijuana Policy Project. They have openly stated that they are targeting Arizona for the year 2016 to put an initiative on our ballot to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes.”
Polk said the group spent millions of dollars in a successful push to legalize recreational marijuana in Colorado in 2012. Polk and several local law enforcement officials recently met with a police chief from a Denver suburb who described his departments struggles with the new Colorado law.
“He described chaos, he described harm,” said Polk. “But his final message was that we have to mobilize in Arizona now. You cannot wait until it is on the ballot because it will be too late.”
Similar resolutions presented by MATFORCE have recently been passed by councils in Prescott, Prescott Valley, Camp Verde, and by the Yavapai County Board of Supervisors.