After a long campaign the state of Arizona just barely voted against Prop 205, an adult use marijuana legalization initiative. A less than 3% difference, however, makes it clear that about half of the residents in the state want marijuana to be regulated. With two years before the possibility of another election there is bound to be at least one more attempt at a legalization initiative – and from the looks of it one lawmaker is looking to take it up by legislature before then.
Not long after the initiative failed in the election the chairman of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, J.P. Holyoak, was confident that even though they had not won, they had at least gotten the ball rolling for the future – and it appears he wasn’t wrong. Representative Mark Cardenas has just pre-filed a bill with the House, which is now expected to be introduced in early 2017, and if it should pass through Congress it would legalize the use of cannabis for adults 21 and older.
“We ran a positive, fact-based campaign that fostered a much-needed public dialogue about this subject, and we are confident it will lend to positive change in the future,” Holyoak said.
This bill covers a number of different aspects, similar to any initiative that has been passed in other states – including legalizing the possession, consumption, use, display, purchase and transport of an ounce or less of marijuana, allowing adults to possess, grow, process or transport no more than five plants, transfer without remuneration (gifting) of one ounce or less between adults 21 and older. They even specifically cover assisting an individual of legal age in any of the previously mentioned actions.
On top of determining those specific rights for adults, it also covers who would regulate the industry – the Department of Health Services. It would require all medical marijuana retailers to register and have locations approved by state officials, likely with a similar structure as the licensing in other states. It also imposes a $50 per ounce tax on cannabis – half of which would go into a fund for educational and health programs and the other half would go into the state’s general fund.
There are many states that have been talking about the possibility of legalizing cannabis for adult use through legislature – Vermont came the closest earlier this year – but it has yet to be accomplished. Knowing that voters were so close to passing the initiative in their state gives Arizona lawmakers a good reason to try and implement a law on their own – hopefully structured well and with the intention to create a successful industry that their state can benefit from in many ways.