The last adult-use cannabis legalization measure on the ballot in Arizona, Proposition 205, failed to pass by a minimal amount of about 3 percent back in 2016.
The Arizona Dispensaries Association (ADA), backing the legalization in the upcoming 2020 election, released the details of a new ballot measure on Friday, August 9, 2019. The measure was created in partnership with the Arizona chapter of the American Civil Liberty Union (ACLU) as well as Arizona NORML, the Law Enforcement Action Partnership (LEAP), and the Drug Policy Alliance.
The executive director of the ADA, Tim Sultan, stated “this bill represents the right balance for Arizona right now". More importantly, "it gives back to the state and the people of Arizona in the form of tax revenue, education, and public safety."
"Back in 2016, other stakeholders were not involved in the measure," he reasoned. "There was no buy-in from the community."
The ballot initiative, known as the Smart and Safe Act is slated for the 2020 ballot if supporters turn in a minimum of 237,645 valid voter signatures by July 2, 2020. Here are some of the key measures of the proposed ballot, according to the ADA:
- Arizonans 21 and over would be able to possess only up to one ounce of marijuana, of which five grams could be concentrates.
- Not more than twelve plants may be produced at a single residence where two or more individuals who are at least 21 years of age reside at one time.
- Smoking marijuana in public or open spaces, such as restaurants, parks, and sidewalks, would still be prohibited.
- Employers and property owners would have the right to forbid use at their workplaces and on their property.
- Those who were previously convicted of low-level marijuana charges/crimes would have the option to have their criminal records expunged, providing them fair access to employment and housing.
- There would be an implementation of excise tax of 16 percent to all cannabis products, which would be in addition to regular taxes, similar to most other retail goods.
- The collected funds from the excise tax would go toward various state agencies like the Department of Health Services and the Department of Public Safety, with remaining funds divided mainly between community colleges, fire and police departments, and public health programs.
Key provisions include the creation of more dispensary licenses. Currently, Arizona has around 116 operating medical-marijuana dispensaries, many controlled by large multi-state companies.
The other discussion up for debate is whether local municipalities have the ability to restrict or prohibit sales. Nick Ponder, the legislative director for the League of Arizona Cities and Towns, said the league will reach out to the initiative backers with those specific concerns.
Sultan also mentioned the justice reinvestment program outlined in the measure, which would utilize some money from the excise tax to help those who have been affected by the consequences of the war on marijuana and prohibition in general. This possible historical vote could help to prove that prohibition is not the answer, and rectify the wrongs caused by it. We hope to see legalization of recreational marijuana come about in the best way possible for Arizona residents.
In addition to the possible recreational marijuana business licensing opportunities this ballot measure may bring, Arizona also has an upcoming opportunity to apply for a medical marijuana dispensary license. With the passing of Senate Bill 1494, the Arizona Department of Health is to issue additional dispensary licenses beginning April 1, 2020.
Download our Arizona Application Guide & Checklist to begin preparing for applications. The guide provides step-by-step instructions on over 100 action items to complete prior to submitting your application for a marijuana business license. Learn about business application topics from real estate and financial planning to staffing and team building activities.