Arizona voters rejected Proposition 205 to legalize recreational marijuana last November. But it was a close decision with just 52 percent no votes.
Now, the marijuana lobby is trying again. As KJZZ reports, a political action committee euphemistically called “Safer Arizona” has filed the paperwork to begin collecting signatures in order to put the issue back on the ballot in 2018.
Safer Arizona chairman David Wisniewski told a marijuana industry website: “We are pumped up and more prepared than ever.” If adopted, the “Safer Arizona Cannabis Legalization Act,” would:
Legalize possession, consumption and transportation of marijuana for adults 21 and over
Repeal marijuana prohibition entirely and replace jail time for offenses with fines
Allow for home cultivation of up to 48 plants
Establish sales tax guidelines and allocate tax dollars for education
Provide a reprieve for people who have prior convictions for marijuana-related offenses
It is noteworthy that the new initiative calls for the legal cultivation of 48 plants when states like Colorado and Massachusetts allow only 12 per home. Initially, “Safer Arizona” had called for even more plants to be cultivated legally for “personal use.”
As before, Arizonans should keep in mind that cannabis is not as harmless as many Americans believe. Today’s cannabis products are much more potent than 40 years ago, they can induce psychosis and lead to addiction. Marijuana use is especially harmful for young people since emerging science about brain development suggests that most people don't reach full mental maturity until the age of 25.
Full legalization is likely to have an impact on traffic fatalities. Colorado legalized recreational cannabis in 2012. According to a 2015 report by the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Traffic Area, marijuana-related traffic deaths increased by 154 percent between 2006 and 2014 while Colorado emergency room hospital visits that were “likely related” to marijuana increased by 77 percent from 2011 to 2014.
The new Arizona initiative requires more than 150,000 valid signatures by July 2018 to get the issue on the November 2018 ballot.