Marijuana Legalization on the Ballot in Arizona

Marijuana Legalization on the Ballot in Arizona

Arizona voters will have a chance to cast a ballot in support of recreational marijuana this coming November.

The initiative will hit the polls only four years after voters rejected a similar measure by a slim margin of 2.6 percent. However, a recent survey showed that over 62 percent of likely voters now support legalizing cannabis, suggesting a recent change of heart in the Grand Canyon State.

Proposition 207 

Supporters of the measure turned in a petition that had garnered over 420,000 raw signatures to Secretary of State Katie Hobb’s office in July. On August 10th, Hobb’s certified the signatures and added the initiative to the ballot under the name Prop. 207.

If approved, Prop. 207 would make it legal for adults in Arizona to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, so long as no more than five grams of that marijuana is in the form of concentrates. Arizonans would also be allowed to cultivate up to six cannabis plants in their homes. In homes with two or more adults, the allowance would go up to twelve plants total.

The measure requires the Department of Health Services to set forth the rules regarding retail sales by June 1, 2021. State and local sales taxes would be charged, as well as an additional 16 percent excise tax. The revenue from the taxes collected would be split between the state agencies responsible for overseeing the implementation of the law, fire departments, highways, community colleges, and a restorative justice fund.

Employers would still be allowed to ban marijuana in the workplace and prohibit potential applicants and current employees from using cannabis.

Prop. 207 will do more than simply legalize cannabis in Arizona. There are several provisions written to help those who have been impacted by the harsh realities of prohibition, including establishing a social equity program designed to issue licenses to members of communities that have been historically disproportionately targeted by cannabis laws. It would also allow Arizonans who have been previously convicted of marijuana-related crimes to petition for the expungement of their records. 

Support for Proposition 207

Smart and Safe Arizona, where former House representative Chad Campbell (D-24) is a chairperson of the campaign committee, spearheads the initiative’s campaign.

“As the name says, smart and safe. It’s put together in a responsible way to sell this product to adults only, and it will generate revenue, much-needed revenue, for the state which is a win for everybody,” Campbell told Fox10 Phoenix. He estimates that legal cannabis will bring around $300 million in revenue a year.

Political consultant Stacy Pearson told KTVK, “[Prop. 207] does the right thing by providing an option for folks who were previously convicted of low-level marijuana charges to have their criminal records sealed, so they have fair access to jobs and housing. It frees up police to focus on real crime and hard drugs and unclogs the justice system, which is currently backlogged with minor offenses.”

Opposition to Proposition 207 

Robert Leger, a spokesperson for Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, has concerns about what kind of signal legalization could send to young people.

“I think there’s a lot here to worry about. If you have a vote that says it’s OK to use it, I think those kids who might be on the fence might are more likely to say ‘The voters say it’s a good thing [sic] to have, it can’t be bad for us.’ I think it makes it more legitimate in the eyes of a teenager.” Leger said to KTVK

Contrary to what Leger believes, studies have shown that legal cannabis markets have not caused increased marijuana use by minors.

Pro Cannabis Billboard Draws Attention at Arizona Golf Tournament

Pro Cannabis Billboard Draws Attention at Arizona Golf Tournament

The Arizona Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is raising eyebrows over a pro-legalization billboard the group sponsored in Phoenix. The billboard, appropriately timed and themed to coincide with the annual Waste Management Phoenix Open, reads:

“If beer and golf make for the ‘greatest party on grass’… Why can’t adults enjoy a safer party on grass?”

The Waste Management Phoenix Open, a tournament known for attracting thousands of visitors and hosting lavish parties, has been dubbed “The Greatest and Greenest Party on Grass.”

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona is attempting to institute a Colorado-like system of cannabis legalization. A campaign spokesperson reports that the group is close to gathering the required number of signatures to get the issue on the state’s ballot in November.

“Our message is simple,” said J.P. Holyoak, the campaign chairman.

“Enjoy alcohol responsibly, but adults should be able to choose the safer alternative and enjoy cannabis responsibly as well.”

The billboard, which will remain at Seventh and Lincoln streets in Phoenix until the end of the tournament, has been received with disapproval from many who oppose cannabis legalization.

“Using the laudable and charitable Waste Management Phoenix Open golf tournament as a springboard to publicize a political campaign to legalize marijuana in Arizona is the opposite of good health, good education and good public policy — and certainly the opposite of good taste,”

wrote Seth Leibsohn, the chair of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a group that opposes the legalization of cannabis in the state.

Holyoak disagrees, citing a hope that the billboard inspires honest conversation about cannabis and responsible substance consumption.

“There are a lot of stereotypes that go along with marijuana that don’t ring true,”

explained Holyoak. “These stereotypes would be the equivalent of saying that everyone who enjoys a glass of wine was a wino on the streets, drinking out of a paper bag and stumbling around. Most adults who consume marijuana are simply responsible working people, family members, and parents. They’re normal people — so I think it’s absolutely inappropriate to invoke these stereotypes of cannabis consumers when it’s not the reality.”

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