Opposition group releases first ad, makes misleading claim from small hospital September 22, 2022 By Griffin Coop A well-financed group opposed to recreational marijuana has released its first TV ad, citing misleading claims from a small Colorado hospital and claiming that legalization in other states has led to negative outcomes. The ad from Safe and Secure Communities, a group funded by Republican megadonors Ron Cameron and Richard Uihlein, claims that a “major hospital has reported that nearly 50% of newborns are testing positive for marijuana.” The claim appears to be based on a report from St. Mary-Corwin Hospital, a 42-bed hospital in Pueblo, Colorado, that reported five of the 11 babies it tested in March 2016 had tested positive for marijuana. According to a report by The Gazette newspaper of Colorado Springs, the hospital had 52 newborns that month and tested 11 of them “due to suspected pre-natal exposure.” Of the 11 tested, five tested positive for marijuana. That’s 9.6% of the 52 total newborns. The Gazette summed up the data: At best, the facts were unintentionally distorted, a Gazette inquiry has found. At worst, they were misrepresented for political effect. The Gazette asked representatives of St. Mary-Corwin for more information to compare the data to other time periods, but the hospital said it did not have any other data. Colorado legalized medical marijuana in 2000 and recreational marijuana in 2012. Responsible Growth Arkansas, the industry-backed group sponsoring the marijuana amendment, released its first ad last month, arguing that the amendment would benefit law enforcement. The amendment would use 15% of the tax revenue from recreational marijuana to fund a stipend for certified law enforcement officers. Safe and Secure Communities pushed back at Responsible Growth Arkansas’s public safety argument. “Proponents of Issue 4 claim legalizing marijuana will protect our communities, but the facts tell a different story,” the ad’s female narrator said. The ad said the legalization of recreational marijuana in other states resulted in a doubling of marijuana-related traffic deaths and that youth drug use has “skyrocketed.” The ad cited the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, a federal crime-fighting program that coordinates law enforcement agencies in Colorado, Utah, Montana and Wyoming. The program released a report last year that stated traffic deaths involving drivers who tested positive for marijuana rose from 55 in 2013 to 131 in 2020. The report also said that the number of youth aged 12 and older who reported using marijuana in the past month rose 26% since 2013.