Arizona’s Secretary of State confirmed that a bill to legalize marijuana sales in the state will appear on November’s ballot.
The Smart and Safe Arizona Act, drafted by a coalition of marijuana reform advocates, would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of cannabis and grow up six plants for personal use. Tax revenues from marijuana sales – projected at $300 million annually once the industry matures – would be allocated towards public services, infrastructure, and health and safety programs, with particular emphasis on investment in communities disproportionately impacted by the war on drugs. Other provisions of the Smart and Safe Arizona Act include expungements of marijuana-related convictions and a prohibition on public cannabis consumption.
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs announced Smart and Safe Arizona had gathered 255,080 verified signatures from registered voters – more than the 237,645 valid signatures required to prompt a constitutional amendment through a ballot initiative. Last month, Smart and Safe Arizona handed in more than 420,000 signatures to the secretary of state’s office for review just before the deadline for ballot proposal submissions.
Upon doing so, opponents of the proposal filed a lawsuit with the Supreme Court to stop the measure appearing on the ballot, arguing that many of the provisions are unclear. This was rejected by Judge James Smith.
“Petitioners may believe the initiative should put more limits on possessing, using, or cultivating marijuana,” the judge wrote. “Those are policy arguments for the voters. That competing policy perspective does not mean the summary violates the law.”
The last time Arizona voters had their say on recreational marijuana legalization in 2016, the measure was narrowly rejected. According to a recent poll, courtesy of OH Predictive Insights, a comfortable, steadily-increasing majority of Arizona voters of all political persuasions now support legalizing adult-use cannabis.
For now, Arizona’s marijuana laws remain some of the harshest in the country. Minor possession offenses may be classed as felonies resulting in prison time and exorbitant fines of up to $150,000.Arizona now joins Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota as states that will hold an adult-use marijuana ballot initiative this November. A medical marijuana initiative will also appear on the ballot in South Dakota, as well as in Mississippi and Nebraska.