Arizona’s plans to legalize recreational marijuana have failed once again. The organization Safer Marijuana were not able to collect the requisite number of signatures which would have allowed a measure to legalize recreational marijuana to appear on the ballot this November. The group’s volunteers managed to collect approximately 75,000 of the 150,625 signatures needed since they began work on the task last November. A number of issues are being discussed as being the cause for the failed attempt at ending prohibition in the state.
The Promises of Arizona’s Recreational Cannabis Bill
The measure would have decriminalized possession of marijuana and allowed retailers to sell the flower. It aimed to provide post-conviction relief to those affected by prohibition, including record expungement. Job creation, the elimination of discrimination and general regulation of the cultivation, sale and possession of the plant with an aim towards public safety were all part of Safer Marijuana’s objectives during the creation of the measure.
Money Challenges and Other Detractors
One major factor that presented itself as an issue however, was a lack of financial support for the measure; in particular, a lack of support from dispensaries. The measure would have allowed other retailers the right to sell marijuana, ending any business interest dispensaries would have had in supporting the bill.
Criticism of Safer Marijuana by marijuana advocates has also been expressed and may have been a factor in the group’s inability to generate the needed signatures. They are criticized as lacking professionalism and playing into stoner stereotypes that have generally been used to hinder the progress of marijuana reform. The most recent polls indicate that over 60 percent of Americans are in favor of legalizing the plant for recreational use, and for many the old stoner stereotype is not only inaccurate and outdated but also offensive.
Arizona’s History of Failed Recreational Cannabis Attempts
Arizona passed Proposition 203 in 2010, legalizing medical marijuana. The plant was available for sale in 2012 and medical marijuana has been a stable industry in Arizona since this time. In 2016, five states presented measures that would legalize recreational marijuana. Arizona was one of these states, with Proposition 205, a measure that was supported by dispensaries. Arizona was the only state that did not legalize the plant that year, failing with a 51.3 percent to 48.7 percent vote. California, Nevada, Maine and Massachusetts all passed their bills, legalizing recreational in four more states, bringing the total up to 8 states and Washington D.C. This year Vermont also legalized recreational marijuana, becoming the first state to legalize the plant through legislature.
The Push for 2020
Plans for a 2020 measure to legalize the plant in Arizona are being examined by the Marijuana Policy Project, the group responsible for legalizing the plant for medical use in the state in 2010. Spokesman for the group, Morgan Fox, has stated that they believe the measure is likely to do better during a presidential election. He stated that midterm elections tend to bring out more Republican voters, who are not always as supportive of marijuana reform.
Despite the fact that Arizona residents will not be able to vote on the measure this year, it seems that they will get another chance at ending prohibition in 2020.