Editor’s note: The following joint statement was issued by the Alaska Catholic Conference of Bishops on behalf of Anchorage Archbishop Roger Schwietz and Juneau Bishop Edward Burns regarding Ballot Measure 2, which Alaskans will vote on Nov. 4.
Brothers and Sisters in Christ:
We write to you today regarding Ballot Measure 2 which will be on the general election ballot in several weeks. Ballot Measure 2 seeks to legalize, commercialize, advertise and industrialize marijuana and concentrated marijuana products in Alaska. If passed, marijuana production, sale and use would be taxed and regulated. Marijuana would be legalized in all forms in every part of the state for those over the age of 21.
As Catholics, we believe we must vote with an informed conscience on issues that will affect the greater good. As bishops and pastors we believe there are significant risks to the physical and spiritual health of our state were this measure to pass.
Research over the years has shown a multitude of problems arise from marijuana use. These include but are not limited to: abnormal brain structure, poor memory, flat emotions and motivation; delayed response time in reaction to situations; compromised judgment and the inability to perform complex tasks. Decreased productivity as well as accidents in the workplace have also been documented.
The debate in favor of legalization has largely been framed in the language of personal freedom. Our personal freedom exists in the context of the communities to which we belong. As Catholics, we believe we have a responsibility to one another and to the wider community. Personal freedom that is not balanced by sensible regulation for the common good destroys the communities that are the guarantors of our personal freedom.
We urge everyone to vote in the November election as an important duty of citizenship. Prior to the election, we ask that you reflect carefully on what is at stake in this vote, become informed and, with an informed conscience, vote your convictions.