Sutherland Institute exists to inform civil and principled dialogue and decision-making. The marijuana debate has, in our opinion, strayed from both reliable information and civility. We applaud Governor Herbert for reintroducing both.
The policy process almost always includes some combination of politics, posturing and anecdotal claims. It is essential to consider the impacts of policy on real people, but that must be done with care, because claims regarding the pain and suffering of human beings – if not thoughtfully put into the broader context of reality – can quickly turn reasoned debate into polarizing and factually inaccurate rhetoric. Sutherland’s commendation of Governor Herbert’s recent statement is directed at the wisdom and experience demonstrated from his policy perspective.
The governor is right to say that it is the structure – not the intent – of the initiative process that should be of concern. A reading of the language reveals ambiguity, exceptions and perils indicating a path to recreational marijuana. Those pitfalls are readily apparent to those experienced in the policy process and more easily missed when cloaked in clever or emotional campaign language.
Sutherland supports Governor Herbert’s position – not based on politics, but on sound principle and prudent policy. The benefits of marijuana in a medical setting are of interest and should be explored and pursued. We look forward to the day when “medical” and “marijuana” can more appropriately be used in the same sentence. That day is not today, and the governor’s position reflects the more thoughtful and sound approach.