Last Update: October 15, 2014
Ballot committee will seek 2016 voter initiative to tax and regulate marijuana for adults
MPP has formed a ballot committee in Arizona that intends to place a voter initiative on the 2016 ballot to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol for adults 21 and over. Make sure you are subscribed to our email alerts to keep up-to-date on how you can get involved.
Shortly after MPP’s announcement, Rep. Ethan Orr (R) announced he will ask the legislature to consider a bill that would establish a similar regulatory program. Please take a moment to reach out to your legislators and ask for their support to establish a system that would regulate marijuana similar to alcohol. It’s time to put an end to the decades of failed prohibition policies that have fueled a robust underground market and crime, while ruining thousands of lives.
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. Please ask your legislators to support imposing a civil fine, not criminal penalties and possible imprisonment, for possession of marijuana.
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.
Several promising bills fell short during the 2014 legislative session, including HB 2558, which would have legalized marijuana by establishing a tax and regulate approach for adults 21 and over, and HB 2474, which would have decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana and imposed a non-criminal fine. In addition to writing your legislators, stay tuned about efforts to let voters put an end to Arizona’s cruel and wasteful prohibition of marijuana.
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 web page.
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 10thstate to do so. Unfortunately, the department will not begin accepting applications until January 1, 2015.
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.