Arizona’s cannabis laws have been surprisingly strict, allowing only for medical use, despite playing neighbor to states like Colorado and California where the plant is legal for both adult-use and medical purposes. However, that may change in November when Arizonians vote on Proposition 207, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative.
Arizona law currently views cannabis in tandem with the federal perspective: it’s classified as a “Schedule I” controlled substance, and any person caught carrying cannabis without a valid Arizona state medical cannabis card faces felony charges.
While it’s easy enough in most states to obtain a medical cannabis card based on symptoms such as insomnia, anxiety, or an eating disorder, Arizona currently only allows for patients with “debilitating illnesses” such as glaucoma, cancer, HIV/AIDS, PTSD, or severe chronic pain.
Prop. 207, lobbied by Smart and Safe Arizona, aims to legalize the sale, possession, and consumption of up to one full ounce of cannabis (of which five grams may be concentrate) for any adult 21 years or older. Individuals would also be legally allowed to cultivate up to six cannabis plants at their home for personal use only. All recreational cannabis purchased would be taxed at 16%, the same as cigarettes and alcohol in the state.
If passed, the law would continue the ban on smoking cannabis in public. It also restricts brands from advertising to children or selling any edibles like gummy bears or worms that resemble children’s candy, although the sale of other edibles would be allowed (with a cap of 10mg per serving, and no more than 100mg per package).
The legalization of recreational cannabis in Arizona will be groundbreaking for the state’s market, conservatively expected to generate around $300 million annually in new revenue that would be dedicated to schools, public safety and health programs, highways, and roads. It would also create thousands of new jobs throughout the state.
Additionally, the proposition calls for an increase in penalty for anyone who is caught driving under the influence of cannabis, and continues to allow any employer or property owner to prohibit cannabis use on their property. The proposition would also provide the opportunity for those convicted of low-level cannabis charges to have their records expunged, a type of reform that has been happening slowly nationwide.
Thanks to the 255,080 valid signatures submitted bythe Smart and Safe Arizona initiative, the proposition will appear on the General Election ballot on Nov. 3 and give Arizonians the chance to change their cannabis narrative. Assuming it passes, the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) would be required to establish recreational cannabis regulations on or before April 5, 2021, the date set by the proposition for sales to begin.