Last Update: January 9, 2015
Positive bills under consideration in Arizona
Rep. Mark Cardenas has sponsored two important bills to be considered by the Arizona state legislature in 2015. HB 2006 is a decriminalization bill which would remove criminal penalties for the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. If you support a better approach that helps people avoid harsh penalties and damaged future prospects for jobs, housing, and education, please ask your legislators to support imposing a civil fine, not criminal penalties and possible imprisonment, for possession of marijuana.
Rep. Cardenas’s second bill, HB 2007, would establish a workable system to tax and regulate marijuana for adults 21 and over, similarly to alcohol. Marijuana prohibition has been just as ineffective, inefficient, and problematic as alcohol prohibition, and it is encouraging to see more and more legislators consider practical efforts to end these failed policies. If you support a better approach that would legalize marijuana and establish a retail system for adults, please let your representative and senator know!
In addition to Rep. Cardenas’s bill, plans are now underway to work toward a ballot initiative that would establish a sensible, tax-and-regulate system for retail sales of marijuana for adults in Arizona. MPP has formed a ballot committee in Arizona that would take this issue directly to voters. Make sure you are subscribed to our email alerts to keep up-to-date on how you can get involved.
Learn about Arizona's marijuana laws and past efforts to improve them
Arizona 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. A 2013 report by the American Civil Liberties Union found that over 55% of drug arrests or citations in Arizona are for marijuana possession and that blacks are 2.4 times more likely to be arrested or cited for marijuana possession than whites despite similar rates of use.
Polls gauging support for replacing marijuana prohibition with regulations in Arizona tend to show majority support. In a May 2013 poll, 56% of Arizonans supported legalization. A January poll showed 51% opposed, while a poll in February showed the reverse, with 51% in favor of legalization.
Marijuana’s status as a criminal offense is a distraction for law enforcement and needs to change. In 2012, over 90% of all marijuana busts were for possession, yet during the same year, 92% of all reported burglaries, 74% of all reported rapes, and over 90% of all motor vehicle thefts went unsolved. It's time law enforcement stop wasting time going after people who choose a substance that is safer than alcohol!
Medical marijuana in Arizona
In 2010, Arizona voters approved Prop. 203, an MPP-drafted and funded initiative to allow the medical use of marijuana. To learn about the program, visit the Department of Health Services’ medical marijuana webpage.
The state’s medical marijuana program recently improved with the addition of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) to the list of qualifying conditions. On July 9, the Arizona Department of Health Services agreed to grant access for victims of PTSD, making Arizona the 10th state to do so. According to previous reports, the department began accepting applications for those suffering from PTSD on January 1 of this year.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Arizona, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service, if you haven't done so already.