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Gage Skidmore

Arizona Legalization Initiative Qualifies for November Ballot

The ballot initiative in Arizona to legalize cannabis for recreational use submitted enough signatures to qualify for the November ballot, the Arizona Republic reports. The initiative is being challenged over the language of the measure, but if it survives the court case it will appear on the ballot as Proposition 205.    

“Eighty-three years ago, Arizona voters approved a ballot measure to repeal the failed policy of alcohol prohibition,” J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Yes on 205 campaign, said in a statement. “This November, we will have the opportunity to end the equally disastrous policy of marijuana prohibition. Prop 205 would establish a more sensible system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol.”

It’s the bit about the drug being “taxed similarly to alcohol” at the heart of the lawsuit by Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy – who claim that voters are being deceived on that premise. The group contends that the cannabis market would not be regulated like alcohol, citing two provisions; one pertaining to employees able to be fired for suspicion of being under the influence of marijuana; and another giving 100 of the 150 available licenses to current medical marijuana dispensaries.

If approved, the measure would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants. The Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control would implement a regulated system, with a 15 percent excise tax on retail cannabis sales. Proceeds from the tax would be used to fund the regulator system, with any additional revenues being allocated to the Department of Education, and the Department of Health Services.

The Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Commission estimates tax revenues and license fees would generate more than $123 million annually by 2020, with about $55 million per year for K-12 education and full-day kindergarten programs.      

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