Arizona Marijuana Legalization To Hit Ballots 2020
A measure legalizing marijuana in Arizona officially qualified for the November elections on Monday. Activists submitted enough signatures to make the cut after submitting 420,000 raw signatures, the secretary of state said.
Under the measure, adults could possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time and grow six plants for personal use. Cannabis sales would be taxed at 16 percent, with a maximum of $1,000 per ounce for medical purposes and $2,500 for recreational use, the calculation said.
Tax revenues would cover the implementation costs and then be shared between the state, federal government and the Arizona Department of Public Health and Human Services. The Ministry of Health would be responsible for regulating the program and issuing cannabis licenses. It would also be responsible for extending the programme to provide delivery services to medical and recreational users and the public.
Secretary of State Katie Hobbs said her office reviewed the Smart and Safe Arizona campaign's petitions and found that they had submitted 255,080 valid signatures, but that at least 237,645 were needed to qualify. Proposals to put them on the ballot will go a long way to an election for activists who once asked the state Supreme Court to allow them to collect electronic signatures in the midst of a coronavirus pandemic.
The application was ultimately denied, and opponents of legalization appealed to the state Supreme Court on Tuesday. Prohibition advocates sought to discourage the measure from voting by filing a lawsuit in state court, arguing that the official summary of the initiative was misleading because it omitted certain provisions. The court disagreed and dismissed the lawsuit last week, but opponents of legalization invoked it Tuesday.
Arizona voters narrowly rejected a marijuana legalization initiative in 2016, and in a poll of likely voters released last month, more than six in 10 (62 percent) said they supported legalizing cannabis, while 32 percent opposed it.
Opponents of the proposal, including Gov. Doug Ducey (R), recently released an official voter guide opposing the initiative. Supporters have also filed arguments, and voters have distributed state-printed pamphlets.
In his submission, the governor argued that legalization was a bad idea based on false promises. Meanwhile, legalization advocates have asked their supporters to share their thoughts on why they support the cannabis ballot measure.
Last week, it was confirmed that activists had filed a petition to place a measure to decriminalise the fungal disease in the country's capital.
Campaigners for medical marijuana legalisation are hoping for a tailwind after a federal judge recently declared that states must provide shelter for separate campaigns. Last month, Montana activists said county officials had already confirmed they had collected enough signatures to put two marijuana legalization measures on the state ballot, and that the State Department had made it official. Organizers in Nebraska have filed 182,000 signatures to put a medical marijuana measure to a November vote. Oregon's Secretary of State confirmed last month that a measure legalizing psilocybin therapy and decriminalizing possession of the drug, as well as expanded treatment services, will be on the ballot in November. But hopes for legalization are fading in other states, such as Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska, because of the federal government's crackdown on medical marijuana.
The New Jersey Legislature has also agreed to put a referendum on legalizing cannabis to voters. Activists are also collecting signatures to qualify an initiative to legalize medical cannabis for election, while lawmakers have also approved a competing initiative that will appear on the campaign trail and is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and the National Organization for Marijuana Rights Reform (NORML). Despite the outbreak of COVID-19, they remain at home, and efforts to legalize marijuana for medical and recreational purposes have qualified for November's elections in South Dakota. The campaign to legalize cannabis in Missouri has abandoned its efforts because collecting signatures was virtually impossible given the social distance against the measure.
Marijuana legalization activists in North Dakota have shifted their focus and will try to qualify for the 2022 election. Washington state activists worried about the COVID-19 outbreak announced last month that they would instead target the legislature. They plan to take steps to decriminalize and treat the drug after the election, according to a news release from the Marijuana Policy Project.