Advocates in Arizona have submitted 420,000 petition signatures to state officials for the cannabis legalization ballot initiative, the Arizona Republic reports. The Smart and Safe Arizona campaign needs 237,645 valid signatures to put the issue to voters in November, but the signatures still need to be validated.
The proposal would create a taxed and regulated recreational cannabis industry in the state, individuals 21-and-older would be allowed to make legal purchases and possess up to 1 ounce. A 16 percent excise tax would be implemented, along with regular sales taxes, and industry-derived taxes would be mostly directed toward public safety and community colleges. Edibles would be permitted under the plan; however, THC would be capped at 10 milligrams.
It also includes expungement provisions for cannabis possession crimes up to 2.5 ounces.
In 2016, Arizona voters rejected the reforms by a 52-48 percent margin. That measure was opposed by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, who is also opposing this year’s campaign. Garrick Taylor, senior vice president of government relations and communications for the chamber, told the Republic that legalization would do “more harm than good,” claiming that legalizing cannabis would lead to “an uptick in workplace accidents and lower overall workplace productivity” jeopardizing workplace development efforts and raise costs for drug treatment and rehabilitation.” He also pointed to the coronavirus – of which Arizona is experiencing a spike – saying the pandemic is already putting stress on the state’s public health system and cannabis legalization would add to those stressors.
Arizona Dispensary Association President Steve White, who is CEO of Harvest Health and Recreation, said the state is “ready to legalize” and called the proposal “right” for Arizona. He added that, with the unemployment fallout from the pandemic, “new jobs and revenue are even more critical” than during the previous campaign.
If approved, current medical dispensaries – there are 130 in the state – would get the first crack at retail licenses. The measure also includes first-round licensing for 26 social equity applicants.
If the bid is successful, Arizona would become the 12th state to legalize cannabis.
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