Arizona is hoping to follow in Colorado’s footsteps this November by legalizing recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21. Arizona marijuana legalization would lead to much needed funding being generated for schools between K-12 which has motivated several school officials to support Prop. 205; the bill that aims to regulate and tax marijuana like alcohol. When Colorado legalized marijuana in 2012, they were able to fulfill their promise of generating $40 million dollars a year for public schools. In fact, in 2015, tax revenue from marijuana sales produced over $135 million dollars for the state.
The Proposed Fiscal Benefits of Arizona Marijuana Legalization
The Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee have estimated that Prop. 205 would generate $123 million in tax revenue for Arizona every year. The report that they created in July states that they believe over $55 million of the annual state revenue would go to schools annually. Half of the money would go towards pay for teachers, school construction and maintenance and the other half would go towards funding full day kindergarten programs. This level of funding going towards education is presumed to have a positive ripple effect over the years as children are brought up with better education and more resources.
Advertising for Prop. 205
Supporters of the Prop. 205 measure were upset last month when state officials did not mention that tax revenue from legal marijuana would go to fund schools when they were writing the ballot. Concern that voters would not be well informed about the initiative, propelled an advertising campaign that would inform Arizona residents of the potential benefits from legalizing the plant. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, proponents of Prop. 205, released a digital ad this week that shows a Mesa teacher, a Mesa mother and a Gilbert grandmother. The ad states that “raising money for schools isn’t the only reason to regulate and tax marijuana, but it’s a good reason.” It informs the public about how the revenue gained from Arizona marijuana legalization will affect schools and children.
Voices of Arizona School Officials
School officials who are in support of Prop. 205 talked about the June report released by the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment that clearly shows that the legalization of marijuana in the state has not increased teen use in any way and shows that Colorado’s teens meet the national average. Arizona School Boards Association Immediate Past President Jesus Rubalcava, who is now the president of the Gila Bend Unified School District Governing Board, said “With our state ranked near the bottom in education funding, we can use all the help we can get. I therefore appreciate that the drafters of Proposition 205 directed such a significant share of the expected tax revenues toward education. As we enjoy the overall benefits of ending prohibition, it is great to know that there will be specific benefits, like expanded full-day kindergarten, for Arizona students.”
Other school officials have made similar statements, expressing the immense help the extra funding would provide and sharing data collected by Colorado authorities that clearly show the benefits that legalization has brought to the state, without having any negative impact on teens. Arizona marijuana legalization could have an immense benefit on the state in general and the new ad aims to educate residents on just one of the ways this can come to pass.