November ballot looks set to feature adult-use cannabis legalization in Arizona


Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

At the beginning of July, signatures backing an initiative to legalize recreational cannabis in Arizona were submitted to state officials. The proposed law, which is likely to be featured on the November ballot, would develop a regulated adult-use market.

Pro-cannabis lobbyists at Smart and Safe Arizona a leading campaign pushing for the ballot proposal pulled together to introduce this adult-use initiative, which garnered 420,000 signatures with the Arizona Secretary of State.

Although verification for the signatures has not yet been carried out, the group remains optimistic that the measure will be acknowledged on the November ballot. After all, 237,645 valid signatures were necessary for the law to be voted on and the group has smashed this target.

In 2016, voters turned down an adult-use cannabis legalization bill in Arizona; it fell flat with 48.7 percent of the vote. Nonetheless, support remains high, with a December poll showing that 51 percent of prospective voters support legalization, while 42 percent opposed the idea.

Initiative to legalize recreational cannabis in Arizona receives opposition

An adult-use cannabis industry in Arizona would cause “more harm than good,” said President of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Glenn Hamer, in an official statement on June 25. He is one of many people/groups resisting the measure, with Hamer arguing that the state may fall burden to reduced workplace productivity and accidents if the plant is legalized for social purposes.

Furthermore, concerns about Arizona’s adult-use cannabis legalization initiative have also surfaced in regards to restrictions on the number of allowed licenses per county. Why? Because the terms of the bill would prioritize existing medical cannabis operators and put multistate operators first in line for involvement in the prospective adult-use industry. 

Then again, pro-cannabis movement Smart and Safe also added 26 social equity licenses to the proposal’s language, which would broaden the eligibility criteria for involvement in a legal weed industry.

Overview of Arizona adult-use cannabis initiative

Arizona’s adult-use cannabis initiative would impose a 16 percent retail sales tax on retail products, of which would be available to adults aged 21 and older. Customers would be allowed to possess a maximum of one ounce of cannabis. However, only five grams of that amount could be in the form of cannabis concentrates; otherwise known as “extracts”.

For those who wish to cultivate weed from their primary residence, there would be a six-plant limit included in Arizona’s adult-use cannabis initiative. If two or more adults reside at a property, the plant limit increases to 12.  

All products featured in the state’s prospective market must be labeled/advertised safely and consumers would be forbidden from using the plant in a public space. Edibles produced and sold in Arizona would also be capped at 10mg THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and each package should not exceed 100mg THC.

In the event that Arizona’s cannabis legalization proposal is featured on the ballot and enacted into law, regulations must be hashed out by the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) no later than April 5, 2021.