Arizona’s adult-use cannabis initiative is making headway

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Bethan Rose Jenkins, Cannabis News Writer/Editorial

On Thursday, August 20, a voter initiative to legalize a commercial and regulated adult-use cannabis program in Arizona was approved by the Arizona Supreme Court. The successful ruling means that the proposal will be voted on at the forthcoming November ballot.

Pro-pot lobbyists can breathe a sigh of relief that Arizona’s recreational cannabis legalization initiative has cleared one hurdle, a with just one more remaining the big vote.

Opponents may not be so pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling. After all, a group of anti-legalization residents fought against the initiative. 

Why? They claimed that it didn’t spotlight any of the specific state law changes that would transpire if a legal market blossoms. 

One such argument centered around the fact that the state’s legal cannabis initiative did not address a potential 16 percent excise tax on sales.

Judge dismissed arguments regarding Arizona’s recreational cannabis legalization initiative

Earlier in the month, Superior Court Judge James Smith rejected the anti-cannabis lobbyists’ arguments. Those arguments were put forward by lawyers, who drafted 25 pages in an effort to prevent the measure from being voted on this November. The judge claimed that the requested provisions of the Smart and Safe Arizona Act were already contained in the summary.

Not everybody is happy with the state Supreme Court’s ruling, however. On September 10, the Cannabis Consumers Coalition joined forces with numerous stakeholders in Arizona to announce the launch of an educational litigation campaign. The primary goal of this program is to stop protectionism in established and new/soon-to-be-launched cannabis markets. 

According to the Coalition, a number of concerns have arisen regarding Arizona’s Proposition 207, Marijuana Legalization Initiative (2020) being voted on at the November ballot. Coalition members claim that market protectionism, consumer trust and lack of market opportunities via monopolization should be considered before Arizona’s recreational cannabis initiative is voted on.

What does Arizona’s recreational cannabis initiative entail?

Arizona Proposition 207, the Marijuana Legalization Initiative, has managed to get a place on the ballot this November 3 as an initiated state statute. In the event that a “yes” vote takes place, individuals aged 21 and over will be able to legally possess and consume the green plant within the state’s borders.

As per the details of Arizona’s recreational cannabis initiative, a tax would be imposed on cannabis sales, which would favor existing medical cannabis operators. Regulatory rules would be left up to the state Department of Health and Human Services (DHS); e.g. the licensing of retail stores, cultivation operations and production facilities.

A Social Equity Ownership Program (SEOP) would also be adopted by Proposition 207 26 social equity licenses would be distributed among those who have been disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs.