2016 Arizona ballot initiative
Last update: June 13, 2016
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona, sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project, has filed a ballot initiative with the Arizona Secretary of State. The campaign’s goal is to collect 260,000 signatures, well over the 150,642 valid signatures needed, to account for signatures that may not be counted because they are illegible or the signer provided incomplete or inaccurate information. The campaign has already collected over 230,000 signatures and will complete the signature drive at the end of June.
The initiative would establish a sensible tax-and-regulate system for retail sales of marijuana to adults in Arizona. Visit the campaign website to read a summary of the initiative. You can find the full version here.
Replacing marijuana prohibition with regulation is especially important in Arizona, because it has some of the harshest marijuana laws in the country. Unlike most states, the criminal penalty for possession of just one ounce of marijuana can be a felony that carries a potential penalty of 18 months in jail and a $150,000 fine. And this in a state where, in 2012, 92% of all reported burglaries, 74% of all reported rapes, and over 90% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved.
Arizona Legislature’s attempts to try to interfere with the will of the voters defeated
In 2010, Arizona voters approved Prop. 203, an MPP-drafted and funded initiative to allow the medical use of marijuana. Almost 90,000 patients are currently registered and are able to obtain their medicine from more than 90 dispensaries. (Click here to learn more.) In addition, the Department of Health Services recently announced that it will be accepting applications for new dispensary licenses from July 18 – 29, 2016.
Unfortunately, some members of the Arizona Legislature oppose this progress and continue trying to attack Prop. 203. Thankfully, these efforts were defeated and the legislative session has ended for 2016. Bills were introduced that would have: limited access to medical marijuana by restricting the types of medical professionals who could recommend it (HB 2019); banned the use of medical marijuana by pregnant women (HB 206); and added other unnecessary restrictions (HB 2404 and HB 2405). Thankfully, several of these bills were withdrawn or defeated, and HB 206 was amended so that it simply requires dispensaries to post a sign with a specified warning to pregnant women.
Some of these bills were defeated thanks to the Voter Protection Act (VPA), which states that changes to voter initiatives must “further the purpose” of the original law and must be passed by a super-majority vote of three-quarters of the legislature. Several attempts were made to gut the VPA, two of which, HCR 2023 and HCR 2043, passed the House. Thankfully, both were defeated in the Senate.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Arizona, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s alerts, if you haven’t done so already.