Community faith leaders urge voting ‘no’ on IM 27
South Dakota voters will have the opportunity to vote on Initiated Measure 27 on November 8 at the polls. In simplest terms, the measure would allow adults aged 21 and over to possess “recreational” marijuana weighing less than one ounce along with related paraphernalia. Faith leaders throughout the state have banded together to speak out against this measure and encourage voters to vote no.
Father Brian Christensen, pastor of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Rapid City, said legalizing marijuana goes against his work as a priest to promote happy, healthy families and their salvation.
He said marijuana does not bring happiness, “It relies on something that’s fake and deceptive instead of something that’s real, good, true, and lasting. We have so many distractions in the world today and we practice all sorts of ways to escape from problems, challenges and obstacles in life.”
Across the state in Vermillion, Pastor Harvey Opp of the Providence Reformed Church, said “I have sent out to pastors across S.D. a reminder of what Jesus said are the “great commandments,” to love God with all our being, and secondly, to love our neighbor as ourselves. He gave us the Parable of the Good Samaritan, to illustrate the latter. We are taught thereby to care for the broken bodies and minds of others. There will be an increased number of both in our state, if the so-called ‘recreational’ marijuana is legalized! We need to try to stop the devastation before it happens.”
According to Reverend Opp, “The single biggest problem will be the lives destroyed by this powerful drug. Suicides, addiction, and psychoses increase with legalization, especially in the youngest whose developing brains are most affected by it.” Psychosis is the inability to identify reality marked by delusions and hallucinations.
Jim Kinyon is the executive director of Catholic Social Services. He has served the Diocese of Rapid City for 30 years. “I go to church, and I sit in a pew on weekday mornings with four mothers, all whose boys started smoking marijuana when they were 14-15 years old, and they all died before they were 23 by their own hand.” He is also motivated to take a stand against IM27 by the testimonies of young teens when he is called to a hospital to evaluate psychosis in marijuana related incidents.
Kinyon credits the state of Colorado for having the best record keeping on the impact of legalized marijuana. He said, “The tax revenue brought in from marijuana sales is outpaced at a rate of $1 revenue to $4-5 needed by the law enforcement, medical facilities and psychiatric services that have arisen from marijuana use.”
Students at the Rapid City Newman Center made a video opposing IM27 at the request of their chaplain, Fr. Mark McCormick. Newman Center Director Frank Birkholt said, “I think the ones who gave testimony did it to make the world a better place. We’ve got kids here from all over the country and they’ve seen it legalized in their locales. They know what the downstream effects are. I think the primary reason (they made the video) is they have seen it or experienced it first-hand and that they know that it’s not good for the world.” See their video at: https://youtu.be/k_lWMzeUTok
Both Bishop Peter Muhich and Bishop Donald DeGrood from the Diocese of Sioux Falls have strongly opposed IM 27 citing various statements from popes and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. “As Catholics, we are called to protect the ‘common good,’ which the Catechism defines as ‘the sum total of social conditions which allow people, either as groups or as individuals, to reach their fulfillment more fully and more easily’ “(CCC 1924). You can learn more about this and read their statement at https://sdcatholicconference.org/no-on-27/