Arizona joins 3 other states in legalizing recreational use of marijuana, according to the Associated Press.
The conversation around legalization has always been somewhat marginalized in Arizona. Medical marijuana was voted on and approved in 2010, but only by an ever-so-small margin. So it was no surprise when a slight majority voted against recreational cannabis use in the last effort in 2016. This year, however, it seems the numbers have favored the other side.
The proposition, also called the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, naturally involves a lot of particularities. It allows for adults with at least 21 years of age to legally possess and use up to one ounce of marijuana, or a smaller amount of concentrates. It also allows for individuals to grow up to six plants in their primary residence. The proposition bans smoking in public.
The Arizona Department of Health Services is set to be in charge of regulation and licensing, and a 16% sales tax will be implemented. The Associated Press reports that, combined with sales tax, the industry could bring in around $255 million in new revenue annually, which will fund community colleges, police and fire agencies, transportation projects, and public health and criminal justice programs.
Proposition 207 also amends criminal penalties for possession, and opens up the opportunity for people convicted of certain marijuana-related crimes to petition to have their criminal records expunged (starting July 12, 2021). It’s no secret that there are certain disproportionalities in the demographics of convicted offenders, and it seems this act also seeks to address such issues, or at least begin to.
It will take a while for all of the details to be ironed out, but Arizona has made it clear that it is ready to join other states fully embracing the industry. And Arizona was not alone in voting on this issue this election. South Dakota, Montana, and New Jersey also had measures regarding recreational cannabis on their ballots this year, pushing the national total to 14 states who are on board.
South Dakota in particular made a giant leap, becoming the first state to legalize marijuana for both medical and recreational use at the same time. With so many states creeping towards full legalization, it’s hard to believe that recreational use was not legal anywhere in the U.S. just a decade ago.
Associated Press estimates that recreational marijuana will become officially legal in the state in about a month, once election results have been certified, and that retail sales could start as early as May.
[Featured image: Martijn Baudoin via Unsplash]