Arizona Anti-Marijuana Crusader Sheila Polk Refuses to Say Whether She's Smoked Pot

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk
Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk
Ray Stern

Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk was the only one of four panelists at a Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce marijuana event who wouldn't say if she's ever used cannabis.

The morning panel discussion, "Breakfast with a side of ... Marijuana?" was hosted by the chamber for a group of about 75 of its members and other registered guests at the Doubletree Resort in Scottsdale, with the goal of learning more about the proposed marijuana-legalization initiative expected to be on Arizona's ballot this November.

Polk and Seth Leibsohn are co-chair and chair of the anti-legalization group, Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy. On the legalization side were J.P. Holyoak, chair of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona, and Ryan Hurley, a Scottsdale lawyer who works with cannabis-industry clients. Arizona Republic reporter Yvonne Wingett-Sanchez served as moderator.

Following the discussion, which,  not surprisingly, included accusations of lying by both sides, an audience member asked the panelists whether they had ever used marijuana.

Polk went first — and refused to answer.

"Questions like that are inappropriate," she said.

That's right, the same veteran politician who expects voters to install her to a fifth four-year term this November and who's fashioned herself as the top anti-marijuana voice in Arizona, wouldn't even try something along the lines of "I didn't inhale," like former President Bill Clinton. She didn't try the standard "once or twice" line, like former Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano.

Mark Hiegel, president and CEO of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce, opened the Thursday morning event, "Breakfast with a side of ... marijuana?"
Mark Hiegel, president and CEO of the Scottsdale Chamber of Commerce, opened the Thursday morning event, "Breakfast with a side of ... marijuana?"
Ray Stern

Apparently, in her 16 years in office, Polk's never heard that a refusal to comment sounds highly suspicious. Why doesn't she just say yes or no?

Her colleague, Leibsohn, a businessman and conservative talk-show host, had no problem mentioning at the Wednesday breakfast that "in college I tried it a little bit."

Holyoak, whose CRMLA adult-use legalization effort is expected to be on the Arizona ballot in November, said he's never used marijuana illegally. A medical-marijuana patient under Arizona law and the principal of Arizona Natural Selections dispensary in Phoenix, Holyoak said he's 39 now and that the first time he tried cannabis was at at 37.

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"The last time was last night," he said with a smile.

"I'm a medical-marijuana patient, and I used two days ago," Hurley said.

Then, in a slap at Polk, he said, "The question is instructive. I understand [why] some of the members of the panel do not want to answer the question."

He repeated the statistic that 40 percent of Americans have tried cannabis.

"Unless you're in favor of locking those people in a cage... you need to be supportive of [the CRMLA measure]," he said.

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