Almost a month ago now a grassroots campaign to legalize cannabis in Arizona announced that they would be dropping out – but there was still one major player in the game for this state and that is the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Arizona. This week the group announced that they have turned in a grand total of 258,582 signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State for validation. Of those signatures, they need only 150,642 to be placed on the ballot this November – meaning they have more than 100,000 additional signatures to cover any duplicates or signatures from those who are not registered to vote.
If the initiative passes, it would make marijuana possession and use by adults 21 and older legal – and it would start recreational sales by March 1st of 2018 (long enough for the state to come up with regulations not already specified and license cultivation, production, distribution and retail facilities). The initiative would also create a new agency that would oversee all marijuana sales and businesses – as well as create a tax revenue that will be separated into a few things, mainly going to schools.
Of the new taxes, 15% would go directly to funding all-day kindergarten programs and K-12 schools, which it seems are always short on funding no matter which state we’re talking about. It’s great to see that people are trying to create an industry that will not only protect kids by regulating a substance that is currently relatively easy to obtain by teens, but also by generating revenue to ensure that their schools have the funding they need to get children the education they deserve.
“We are very encouraged by the strong levels of support and enthusiasm we found among voters during the petition drive,” said CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak. “Arizonans are ready to end the antiquated policy of marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. We look forward to continuing the public conversation about the initiative, and we think most will agree it is a sensible step forward for our state.”
There are some who fear that the initiative will allow for driving under the influence, due to language that protects consumers for being charged with a DUI for simply having weeks old THC in their system. However, the attorney representing the campaign, Ryan Hurley, says that it will be up to the legislature to determine what is considered “legally intoxicated” in the same way that the legislature calls 0.08 the legal limit for alcohol consumption when driving.
Overall there is a very strong initiative and a very strong and supported campaign making their way through Arizona and all they are waiting on is those signatures to be validated (which is expected to happen by the start of August). However, they do have to remember that while they have lots of support they also have an opposition to worry about, including their former campaign competitors who don’t agree with some of the wording in their initiative.
With this ballot measure pretty much guaranteed to be validated for the election this November, it’s probably safe to say Arizona will definitely be one of the states deciding the fate of legal cannabis this fall.