Arizona’s 2017 session now underway

 

Last update: February 2, 2017

 

The Arizona Legislature began its 2017 legislative session, and lawmakers already have a legalization bill to consider. Rep. Mark Cardenas’s marijuana policy reform bill, HB 2003, would end marijuana prohibition for adults and establish important regulations to control the production and sale of marijuana. Please urge your state legislators to support HB 2003!

While Proposition 205 fell just short of passage last November, voters are increasingly supportive of a better approach to marijuana than prohibition. By regulating marijuana for adults’ use, the state can generate much-needed revenue for the state budget, replace the underground market with regulated businesses, and allow law enforcement to focus on serious crime.

Make sure your representative and senator hear from you today in support of legalization for adults. And stay tuned as we keep an eye out for legislative efforts to limit or even remove important rights this year.

Unfortunately, Prop. 205, which would have taxed and regulated marijuana like alcohol, was narrowly defeated, 52% to 48% on November 8, 2016. Arizona’s campaign faced a very well-funded opposition that relied on misinformation about the results of legalization in Colorado.

Arizona was the only one of nine marijuana ballot measures — five to tax and regulate marijuana for adults and four to create (or improve) medical marijuana programs — that did not pass in 2016. MPP thanks everyone who helped the Yes on 205 Campaign for their hard work and dedication to this important issue. The defeat of Prop. 205 will not impact Arizona’s medical marijuana program, which was passed by the voters as Prop. 203 in 2010.


Arizona Legislature’s attempts to try to interfere with the will of the voters defeated

 

Almost 90,000 patients are currently registered in Arizona’s medical marijuana program, and 31 new dispensaries were just licensed by the Department of Health Services in October 2016. Patients will soon be able to obtain their medicine from more than 120 dispensaries. Click here to learn more about the program.

Unfortunately, some members of the Arizona Legislature oppose this progress and continue trying to attack Prop. 203. Thankfully, these efforts were defeated last year. 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. We should expect additional attempts to harm the program in 2017.

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 last year.


Stay connected

 

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.