Cannabis reform activists in Arizona can finally rest easy after a measure to legalize cannabis in the state officially qualified for the November ballot. The activists behind the initiative submitted 420,000 signatures in late June, a lot more than the 237,645 valid signatures that were required to qualify the measure. More than a month later, the Secretary of State Katie Hobbs has announced that Arizona citizens will be voting to legalize cannabis in the November ballot after the Smart and Safe Arizona campaign had submitted at least 255,080 valid signatures.
If passed, the measure would allow individuals 21 and older to possess and purchase cannabis from licensed retailers. They would also be allowed to cultivate up to six plants for personal use and possess up to an ounce of cannabis at a time. The measure would also work to reverse some of the harms done by the war on drugs by allowing individuals with prior marijuana convictions to petition the courts for expungements as well as establishing a social equity ownership program.
Under the measure, cannabis sales would be taxed at 16% and the tax revenue will be used to cover implementation costs, with the remainder being divided among funds for community colleges, infrastructure, justice reinvestment, and public services such as police and firefighter services. The Department of Health Services would be tasked with regulating the program, issuing cannabis business licenses as well as deciding whether or not to expand the program to include home delivery services.
Now all the activists can do is hope residents vote in favor of the measure. Although Arizona voters narrowly rejected a legalization proposal in 2016, a recently released survey of likely voters found that about two thirds or 65.6% support this year’s initiative. However, the fact that the measure made it to the ballot is a testament to the activists’ dedication to their cause. The year kicked off with the coronavirus pandemic and by March, signature collection had become virtually impossible.
In April, Smart and Safe Arizona filed a petition with the Supreme Court to allow electronic signature gathering, arguing that the infrastructure to do so already existed, but the request was rejected. They later relaunched their signature collection efforts but after submitting enough signatures, had to contend with a lawsuit that stated the measure was unfit to be on the ballot. Arizonians for Health and Public Safety argued that the 100-word summary of the measure omitted certain provisions but the court rejected that too.
Legalization activists are now asking supporters of the measure to share personal stories about why they support it. The measure will be placed on the November General Election Ballot as Prop. 207.
Industry watchers say the entire cannabis industry, including companies like Pac Roots Cannabis Corp. (CSE: PACR) will be hoping that voters get accurate information about the ballot initiative so that they cast their vote based on solid facts.
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