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.
MPP believes legalizing, taxing, and regulating marijuana for adults 21 and over is a more sensible approach than continuing failed prohibition policies, and so does Arizona state Rep. Mark Cardenas. He recently introduced HB 2007, a bill that would treat marijuana like alcohol, similar to the laws of Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon. If you are an Arizona resident, please take a moment to contact your state senator and representative and voice your support.
Marijuana prohibition has been just as ineffective, inefficient, and problematic as alcohol prohibition, and both national and Arizona polls now regularly show support for a better approach. Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Regulating it would replace the underground market, and law enforcement officials’ time could be more effectively directed to addressing serious crime.
Rep. Cardenas has also introduced HB 2006, which would establish a $100 civil penalty for the possession of an ounce or less of marijuana. In addition to the four states that have legalized marijuana for adults, well over a dozen states have lowered criminal penalties with sensible alternatives to putting people in jail for choosing a substance that is safer than alcohol.
Please support these important bills, and pass this message on to friends, family, and supporters in Arizona!