As of Thursday, Proposition 205, the Arizona marijuana initiative to legalize recreational cannabis, is scheduled to appear on the ballot in November. Secretary of State Michele Raegan informed Gov. Doug Ducey that the initiative had received more than the minimum 150,642 signatures required to qualify for a November vote. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, who backed Proposition 205, kicked off the “Yes on 205” campaign yesterday, with speeches from a doctor, a teacher and a former officer of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) who all believe that the safest and smartest option for Arizona is to legalize the herb and take it out of the hands of an illegal black market.
Getting to Know Proposition 205
The chairman of the Arizona marijuana campaign “Yes on 205”, J.P. Holyoak, said, “Eighty-three years ago, Arizona voters approved a ballot measure to repeal the failed policy of alcohol prohibition. 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.”
Proposition 205 would allow adults over the age of 21 to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and to grow up to 6 plants at home. Adults must consume their marijuana in private. Retail marijuana will be taxed at 15 percent and the Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates that the annual sales tax revenue will earn approximately $55 million a year, with most of that being used to fund school programs from kindergarten to 12th grade and full day kindergarten programs.
Opposition to Arizona Marijuana Legalization
Prohibitionists have not been happy with the situation and Arizonians for Responsible Drug Policy have filed a lawsuit against the campaign, insisting that the revenue earned by legalization isn’t worth the cost to public health and public safety. It is unclear what kind of evidence they will use to back up this claim as all statistical reports from states that have legalized marijuana show a reduction in crime, no effect on teen use and less overdoses of prescription drugs due to the medicinal properties of cannabis. Studies show that the herb is healthier and safer than alcohol and cigarettes, so it will be interesting to see how the Maricopa County Superior Court judge will respond.
Voices in Favor of Legalization
Advocates for the proposition disagree with the Arizonians for Responsible Drug Policy group. Mike Capasso, who is a former agent for the DEA, said “I think you actually take the criminal element out of it, there’s no longer underground, it’s above ground just like alcohol during a prohibition era. Once it ended, there was no more Al Capon, there was no more of that. Coors and Budweiser were making the money and being taxed.”
Holyoak agrees, stating “This isn’t a question of no marijuana or yes marijuana, it’s a quantum. If we are going to tax it, to regulate it, send it to the schools or keep it illegal for criminal drug dealers.”
You can find out more about Arizona Marijuana Proposition 205 here: https://www.regulatemarijuanainarizona.org/prop205/