Late last week details were released about a measure that would legalize adult-use marijuana in Arizona. The group behind the effort – Smart and Safe Arizona – spent months getting feedback from every corner of the state, including input from those opposed to legalization.
“Ultimately we found a policy that provides the maximum authority to the government to regulate, the maximum penalty for folks that are not complying with the rules, the footprint that people could tolerate – so, not a dispensary on every corner, we heard folks loud and clear that they didn’t want that – and that will be a substantial amount of revenue to the state for projects that are critical,” said Stacy Pearson, senior vice president with Strategies 360 in Phoenix and a spokesperson for Smart and Safe Arizona.
Yes, God forbid a community would have a functioning business “on every corner”, that certainly would be unacceptable. But that phrase is a favorite of those who oppose legalization; as if – even under a completely unregulated, free-for-all cannabis industry – there would be more than a shop on a tiny fraction of corners. It’s a straw man used to pump fear into voters.
The end result of giving into this fear of a non-existent problem is that sales will be heavily restricted to mainly existing medical marijuana dispensaries, which will limit access and keep prices high.
The effort itself is mostly being funded by medical marijuana dispensary owners in the state, which makes the inclusion of home growing even more surprising.Under the current language, an adult would be able to grow up to six plants in their home, and up to 12 plants in a home with multiple adults.
Some other provisions include possession of up to one ounce by an adult, the possibility of record expungement and a 16% excise tax that will be placed on top of the taxes local jurisdictions and the state decide to place on legal marijuana, something that will combine with limited supply to keep prices elevated.
The 16-page measure is a monument to compromise, something its backers hope will lead to victory at the ballot box next year. They seem to be attempting to strike the perfect balance among all the different factions. I hope it works, and then activists can work on improvements if the measure passes.
But before it can go before voters, the measure needs 237,000+ valid signatures by July 2, 2020. If the home-growing provision survives, it has a chance to be a pretty good measure, despite the seemingly excessive worry about what opponents of legalization think about it.