The Arizona Legislature began its 2018 legislative session last week, and lawmakers already have several marijuana bills to consider. Unfortunately, many would undermine the existing medical marijuana program.
HB 2068 would allow prosecutors to determine whether individuals on parole or probation can access medical marijuana, despite a 2015 state Supreme Court decision that held medical marijuana could not be withheld from patients under those circumstances. Another bill, SB 1060, would make it a felony and a $10,000 fine for anyone who publishes the address of a dispensary that is different from that on file, including typos!
Lawmakers should be improving patient access, not creating new obstacles.
Meanwhile, in a move toward improving marijuana policies, Rep. Mark Cardenas has introduced HB 2014, which would reduce the penalty for possession of less than an ounce of marijuana to $100. Please urge your state legislators to support HB 2014!
Imprisoning individuals for possessing small amounts of a substance that is safer than alcohol wastes valuable resources and can lead to a lifetime of harsh consequences, including denial of student financial aid, housing, employment, and professional licenses.
On Election Day, voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada declared an end to the war on marijuana in their states by approving initiatives to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol for adults. This historic event was by far the biggest victory for drug policy reform to date, and will help pave the way for progress around the country.
There are now eight states where marijuana is legal for adults to possess and where cultivation and retail sales are regulated and taxed. Marijuana possession and cultivation are legal in the District of Columbia, but Congress has prevented the city from regulating the non-medical marijuana industry.
This means that marijuana is legal for 66.5 million Americans, or about 21% of the population.
Unfortunately, a similar initiative in Arizona is trailing while the final votes are being counted, but advocates are already preparing to continue the fight in the legislature and possibly at the ballot in coming years.
Support for ending marijuana prohibition is increasing across the nation, according to recent polls. Marijuana initiatives out-performed a number of successful politicians in some states as well. During President-elect Trump's campaign, he voiced support for leaving marijuana policy up to the states. Advocates are hopeful that the next administration will support the will of the people and continue the federal policy of non-interference until Congress is able to pass meaningful marijuana policy reform.
Today is the day! This is the biggest election in marijuana policy reform history, but even if you can't vote on a legalization or medical marijuana ballot initiative today, you could play an important part to make future progress possible in your state.
Before you vote, please check out MPP's voter guides if you live in the following places:
The campaign in support of Prop. 205 in Arizona has unveiled a new billboard in downtown Phoenix that calls out the opposition campaign for running a "Reefer Madness" campaign "paid for with profits from opioid sales."
The ad refers to the "downright false" TV ads that are being run by Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a committee formed to oppose Prop. 205 that received a massive contribution from Insys Therapeutics, a local pharmaceutical company.
The Yes on 205 campaign also set the record straight in its first pair of TV ads, which recently began airing statewide. You can watch the latest ad below, or click here to view all of the ads that have been run thus far by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.
On one side of the scale: Marijuana prohibition contributes to a racist criminal justice system, creates massive profits for drug cartels, and prevents police from investigating real crimes.
While there is a long history of opposition to sensible marijuana policy reform from some big pharmaceutical companies, September saw the biggest financial donation from such a company against a legalization ballot initiative to date, and their motives couldn't be more blatant.
According to campaign finance reports, the committee formed to oppose Prop. 205, Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, received a $500,000 contribution on August 31 from Insys Therapeutics, Inc. According to a CNBC investigative piece about the Chandler-based company — titled “The pain killer: A drug company putting profits above patients” — Insys Therapeutic’s revenue is “almost entirely derived from the highly addictive opiate fentanyl,” which experts call “the most potent and dangerous opioid on the market.” Insys’s aggressive marketing and other shady business practices have triggered multiple state and federal investigations, including one conducted by the Arizona Attorney General.
The front page of Insys’s website also touts its development of “pharmaceutical cannabinoids,” which are synthetic versions of natural chemical compounds found in marijuana.
A number of major media outlets reported on the clear intent to protect profits at the expense of public health and individual freedom, but neither Insys, nor the campaign dedicated to arresting adults for using something that is safer than alcohol, have shown any sign of remorse.
After a court ruling rejected a challenge from prohibitionists to keep the initiative to legalize marijuana in Arizona off the ballot, opponents of the measure made a last-ditch effort to deprive voters of their right to choose by alleging that the ballot language summary was misleading and the initiative should be invalidated.
On August 31, the Arizona Supreme Court ruled that the initiative summary was accurate and comprehensive enough to comply with state law, allowing it to proceed.
Unfortunately, a Maricopa County judge removed a critical element of the initiative from the summary. Voters in the ballot box on November 8 will see no mention of this important fact:
Revenue from the 15% tax on marijuana and marijuana products will be allocated to public health and education.
According to the Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee, Prop 205 will raise approximately $123 million in annual revenue for the state and localities, with more than $55 million dedicated to full-day kindergarten programs and general aid to K-12 schools.
Ballot language normally describes where tax revenue is allocated. It’s regrettable that marijuana reform is being treated differently from other issues. The campaign intends to vigorously educate voters about this fact in the coming weeks.
Here is the complete final ballot language:
A “yes” vote shall have the effect of permitting individuals 21 years and older to privately use, possess, manufacture, give away, or transport up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to 6 marijuana plants at the individual’s residence; generally declaring violations of the Act (including public use) a petty offense punishable by no more than a $300 fine; creating the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, which includes a 7- member Marijuana Commission appointed by the Governor, to regulate and license entities involved in cultivating, manufacturing, distributing, selling, and testing marijuana products; granting local jurisdictions limited authority to enact ordinances and rules to regulate marijuana and marijuana products; establishing licensing fees for marijuana establishments and levying a 15% tax on all marijuana and marijuana products; and declaring all marijuana establishment contracts enforceable notwithstanding any conflict with federal law.
For more information, visit the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona.
On Thursday, state officials informed the supporters of The Initiative to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona that the initiative has qualified for this November's ballot as Proposition 205. In less than three months, the people of Arizona will determine whether to end marijuana prohibition and regulate marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
Eighty-three years ago, Arizona voters approved a ballot measure to repeal the failed policy of alcohol prohibition,” said J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the Yes on 205 campaign. “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.
Prop 205 would allow adults 21 and older to possess limited amounts of marijuana; establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol; and enact a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales, from which a majority of the revenue would be directed to Arizona schools and education programs. The Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimated the initiative would generate more than $123 million in annual tax revenue and license fees by 2020, including more than $55 million per year for K-12 education and full-day kindergarten programs.
For more information, visit http://RegulateMarijuanaAZ.org.
On August 19, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by opponents of Proposition 205 who want to keep the measure off the November ballot.
Arizona Republic reports:
Foes argued in court last week that supporters of legalization are deceiving voters with their pitch of the measure. An attorney argued a 100-word summary of the initiative failed to adequately summarize the measure's impact on laws affecting motorists, child custody, workplaces and licensing of certain professions.
In her decision, [Judge] Gentry disagreed, writing: "Plaintiffs demonstrated no ability to prepare a summary that would comply with the 100-word limit and with their objections. Plaintiffs, nonetheless, persist in asserting that omitting these provisions from the summary along with what they consider misstatements about the provisions that were included makes the summary fraudulent. Plaintiffs’ position is in essence that the summary should have more fully described what the initiative will do but do not explain how they could do it better. Instead, Plaintiffs simply argue that such a summary creates a risk of confusion and unfairness and threatens the integrity of the initiative process."
She also rejected their argument because of the Legislature's recent changes to the election code affecting citizens' ability to sue to keep such measure off the ballot. "Whether wittingly or not, the legislature eliminated a means by which initiative petitions can be challenged," the judge wrote.
She also rebuffed foes' arguments that the initiative failed to provide its own immediate self-funding. Prop. 205 proposes to use money from the state's 2010 voter-approved medical-marijuana program initially.
Opponents of the initiative plan to appeal, but the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is confident that the courts will uphold the ruling.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona announced Tuesday that it has collected more than 200,000 signatures in support of a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona. The campaign needs to collect 150,642 valid signatures of registered Arizona voters to qualify the initiative for the November ballot.