Last November, Arizona was the only one out of nine states voting on marijuana legalization initiatives not to pass the law. The good news is that Proposition 205 lost by only a few percentage points, but the bad news is that it still lost. However, in hopes of bringing the issue back to voters in the November 2018 election, a new group called Safe Arizona has just filed their initiative with the Secretary of State and are awaiting approval to start gathering petition signatures in order to have the issue placed on the ballot once again.
The initiative is titled the Safe Arizona Cannabis Legalization Act and it differs from last year’s Prop 205 in quite a few ways, but the most notable being the home growing limit, which would be up to 48 plants. Also, there is the fact that it would put control of the industry under the Department of Agriculture, rather than creating an entirely new commission to oversee the regulation and sale of the plant. The group behind the act – Safe Arizona – is run by military veteran David Wisniewski who uses medical marijuana for PTSD.
“You realize this plant is saving people’s lives and you realize it’s a felony and people are getting killed and are having their lives destroyed and rotting in prison over a non-toxic medicinal flower…you start to get pissed off and realize it’s something worth screaming about,” Wisniewski said.
Wisniewski believes that the reason Prop 205 failed, and even lost part of the vote from cannabis consumers and advocates, is because it was focused far too much on the commercialization of the plant. Instead, he wants this law to be more about actually legalizing it – making it legal to own and possess both flower and plants (which is demonstrated in the initiative with the 48 plant limit, which is far higher than any state to legalize recreational use so far), and putting a flat tax rate on commercial sales and allocating all those tax funds to schools.
As soon as this initiative was submitted, Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy felt the need to remind everyone of their presence and their disapproval for legalization. They were the most active opposition to the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona during the 2016 petitioning and election process, and they are surely going to put the same effort forth this time around. Others opposing the law seem to think it’s just too soon – having only legalized medical marijuana in 2010 – but clearly there are plenty of people in the state who are ready to see prohibition ended and hopefully their efforts will be realized in 2018.