Two days before the end of 2014, a bill was filed with the Arizona state legislature that would legalize the recreational use and retail sale of marijuana in the copper state. The amendment titled “Marijuana; regulation; taxation,” also know as HB 2007, has already been filed by Rep Mark Cardenas (D-Phoenix).
Although the bill is ready and waiting, it is unlikely that it will make it far. This measure will most likely be appointed to the House Judiciary Committee, and the chairman, Rep. Eddie Farnsowth, does not support legalization. For this reason, it is doubtful the measure will make it to the legislature floor for a hearing.
Representative Cardenas, an Iraq War veteran, reported that he believes it would be smarter to introduce this bill in the 2015 legislature, rather than wait for a voter approved initiative to pass in 2016. In the state of Arizona, if marijuana is legalized by voters, it will be difficult for the lawmakers to edit that law. Any changes to a law passed by voter majority would require a two-third approval vote by legislators. Rep. Ethan Orr, (R-D9), publicly stated in October 2014 that he wanted to lead his fellow lawmakers in a legalization discussion for the same reason.
Cardenas told Capitol Media Services that he was also against legalization until he attended a Drugs and Justice course at Arizona State University. Through that class he learned facts about the war on drugs in the United States, and realized that it has done more harm than good.
Under HB 2007, all adults over the age of 21 would be able to possess up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana. Of age adults would also be permitted to cultivate up to 5 plants in a private, secure location away from any under age person. This measure also allows for the licensing and operation of cannabis cultivators and retailers. A $50 tax would be attached to each ounce sold at a dispensary.
Of the tax imposed on each ounce, 50 percent would be allocated to the state general fund, 30 percent would go to education, and the remaining balance would be distributed to the Department of Health Services.
It will be a surprise if HB 2007 is approved by the Arizona state legislature, but it is bringing the issue to the forefront. None of the legalization measures that have passed in the United States have been passed by legislators. Each measure, so far, has been passed by a voter approved initiative.
photo credit: Azcentral