Margaret Sedam  8/23/2018

According to Ballotpedia  there was multiple citizen initiatives proposed for the ballot in November; the dreaded mid-terms.  It should be noted the mid-terms are usually voter light in all states due to lack of a citizenry that is engaged in the process or aware of how directly the mid-terms affect them; I digress.  Instead I took a look at what is not on the Arizona ballot for 2018 mid-terms looking at the herb, cannabis.

Legalization of All Drugs – no signatures filed

Marijuana Legalization & Regulations Ban Initiative – no signatures filed

Medical Marijuana Expansion Initiative – no signatures filed

Marijuana Legalization Initiative – no signatures filed

Industrial Hemp Initiative – no signatures filed

The one commonality between all of the above ballot measures is that no signatures were filed.  The question that I posit is, what that could mean about the citizens of AZ and/or those advocating for legalization.  The first word that comes to mind is apathy.

In July, the Arizona Capital Times published an opinion based on an ASU study stating that the Arizona eligible voter’s state of apathy is reaching “crisis levels” due to the fact that at least half of eligible voters do not vote. Being an independent myself I wondered at the participation for that voting bloc.  According to the ASU study participation by independents in primary elections is far worse, noting that primary elections in Arizona are “primarily forgotten.”  It is noted that only 10 percent of registered independents voted in the 2016 primary election.  Unlike general election years, during mid-terms independents can choose either a Republican or Democratic ballot. Voter turnout in the primary is poor across the board, with just 31 percent of registered Democrats and 43 percent of registered Republicans voting.

In October of 2017 the Herald/Review Media published an article on the apathetic Arizona voter submitting that voter apathy is a result of the many pay raises Governor Ducey has awarded to government officials over the course of 2.5 years.  The article puts one raise in excess of 40 per cent and raises of up to 20 per cent for over 40 staff members. State workers haven’t received an annual wage increase for several years and merit “bumps,” come to an average of about 1.4 percent a year. There are other raises and if you care to get names and amounts check out the following link.  https://www.myheraldreview.com/opinion/why-arizona-voters-are-apathetic/article_531bca76-b480-11e7-812d-fbb291d8d03d.html.  The article claims that “big pay raises for the governor’s cronies and the absence of any penalty for the state’s former top law enforcement official… there’s a mix that’s sure to foster apathy among Arizona voters.”

Still others site a lack of funds from active players in the industry.  It is my opinion that Attorney Jeff Sessions stated crackdown on states with medical marijuana laws may play an important role as well as the law itself, which still lists cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug; right up there with heroin, LSD, quaaludes, and peyote.  I submit that de-scheduling cannabis should be a no brainer and I wonder at the real motive behind the reluctance to legalize.

Finally, I also ponder the lack of a straight forward initiative or bill that would decriminalize the herb in Arizona.  According to research there was a bill (HB-2014) that would set the penalty of less than an ounce of cannabis to a hundred dollar fine, however, it failed.  Had it succeeded it would have been a mini-step in the right direction, however, all other sanctions remain the same from possession of an ounce up.  According to MPP many attempts were made to narrow Arizona’s medical marijuana program during this legislative session although all have met with defeat.

The initiative for the legalization of hemp and its lack of signatures was the most surprising to me but that’s another story.  It occurred to me that readers might enjoy this map of apathy.

Damn, Arizona and Hawaii. You really, really didn’t like either candidate, did you? [Via Reddit]

Hazardous Waste in Arizona and Around the US

Hazardous Waste in Arizona and Around the US

by: Margaret Sedam

    2.8 million Arizonans live within vulnerable zones from toxic chemical leaks is the consensus from Arizona Center for Investigative Reporting.  There is an awesome interactive map on the page which identifies all toxic sites in Arizona.  The site itself can be accessed at the       following web address: http://azcir.org/az-risk-management-plans-epa/.  It is also to be noted that you can see what chemicals are stored where in Arizona, which indicates that chlorine, considered one of the most dangerous chemicals is found in abundance throughout the state, with the largest concentration in the Phoenix area.

In 2011, GoodGuide reported that Arizona has 33 businesses that put out a combined 322,015,549 tons of hazardous waste per year released onto the land, over 4 million tons of toxins into the air and over 2 thousand tons into the water.  The EPA’s Priority List of superfund sites has nine Arizona facilities on the list and only two of the nine garnered above 50% on-site inspections.  With this current knowledge public education becomes an even more important element for the people of Arizona.

I am embarrassed to say that I had not considered the effects of war on the environment and human health, however, consideration of war’s effect opened up new impacts to consider.  In order to understand the concept of war and the environment I would point to one of the principal environmental disasters this country has seen in my lifetime. That would be the destruction of the World Trade Center, which I saw happen in real time on a big screen outside the college library, where I was employed in 2001.  My instant reaction was the instant loss of life; it was sometime later when the health effects on those in the area of the collapse became apparent. Imagine this on a global scale as the world seems to be in a perpetual state of war. Following is a quote from an article by S.M. Enzler that gives a chilling account of the toxins in the air and later in the ground at the World Trade Center.

“As the planes hit the Twin Towers more than 90.000 litres of jet fuel burned at temperatures above 1000oC. An atmospheric plume formed, consisting of toxic materials such as metals, furans, asbestos, dioxins, PAH, PCB and hydrochloric acid. Most of the materials were fibres from the structure of the building. Asbestos levels ranged from 0.8-3.0% of the total mass. PAH comprised more than 0.1% of the total mass, and PCBs less than 0.001% of total mass. At the site now called Ground Zero, a large pile of smoking rubble burned intermittently for more than 3 months. Gaseous and particulate particles kept forming long after the towers had collapsed.”

A map of Superfund sites as of October 2013. Red indicates currently on final National Priority List, yellow is proposed, green is deleted (usually meaning having been cleaned up).

Think of this happening on a global scale.

Finally, although I am aware of many laws being written under the purview of big business, I was unaware that laws were being rewritten to make it easier to sell and/or develop brownfields (land) by offering purchasers liability protections as well as property owners.  The new laws only address responsibility for on-site remediation and no longer cover the hazardous waste that leaches onto another property. Laws being written at the state level are where the legal concept of “Rights of Nature” come into play; a right of nature to thrive and the right of citizens to create local laws to protect the local environment from overreach of big business.

Knowing the extent of hazardous waste sites existing in Arizona as well as the rest of the nation should result in making community commitment to the Earth stronger.  My personal commitment to sustainable energy and a sustainable Earth has been a long term relationship and I do not see that fading but growing stronger. It is our challenge to bring the people of Arizona together on this issue.  Green Times Magazine is also collaborating with others to promote agricultural hemp through an event venue taking place in our own Arizona desert in October in order to make learning about the environment interesting and engaging on a personal level.

I, for one will not change the direction that I have chosen but may have become a bit more resolute in the battle for the people, their land, their air, and their water in Arizona as well as the planet; it is a beginning.