Although it’s too late for Proposition 205, or the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative, to make it onto the November 6, 2018 ballot, that doesn’t mean the end of the recreational legalization effort. It only means people in support of the measure will have to try again during the next election session. The state of recreational marijuana in the U.S. varies considerably from state to state. Arizona is one of many going back and forth on the subject in terms of legal measures and votes. Here is the latest information on Prop 205.
History of Marijuana Laws in Arizona
Back in 1996, Arizona was at the forefront of medical marijuana legalization with the passing of Proposition 200. Voters approved Prop 200 with a 65.4% yes majority. Prop 200 was mainly an initiative for drug policy reform in the state. However, it contained a provision that allowed doctors to prescribe marijuana and other such “controlled substances” to treat disease or relieve symptoms of a seriously or terminally ill patient. Two years later, voters repealed the medical marijuana provision of the law due to a technicality and voted no on a revision of the law (called Prop 300).
In 2002, voters again failed to legalize medical marijuana use in the state. It wasn’t until 2010 that the twice-failed law passed, and Arizona legalized medicinal marijuana use under the provisions of Proposition 203. Prop 203, or the Arizona Medical Marijuana Initiative, narrowly passed with a 50.1% majority. Under Prop 203, qualified patients could receive and use marijuana for medical reasons on a prescription basis, under strict governing rules.
Six years later, in 2016, the state’s first recreational marijuana initiative (Proposition 205) hit the ballot. The law proposed legalization of recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21, with a 15% tax on sales. It failed to pass into law, however, with 51.3% of voters rejecting the initiative. Opponents of the bill said it had “significant problems,” and worried even supporters of recreational marijuana as voter protection would have made the bill almost impossible to change if passed. That brings us to the latest efforts related to Prop 205.
Prop 205’s Defeat in July 2018
The most recent version of Proposition 205 – also called the Safer Arizona Cannabis Legalization Act – would have set up licensed recreational marijuana dispensaries, with revenues going toward licensing operations, regulation, education, and substance abuse programs. It would have permitted recreational marijuana use, under stipulations similar to alcohol laws, for adults 21 and older. It would have allowed qualified individuals to grow six plants at a time, possess up to one ounce of marijuana buds, or five grams of concentrates.
Despite surveys showing that six in 10 Americans support the legalization of marijuana, Prop 205 failed to get its chance in the 2018 election. It did not receive enough signatures to make it to the ballot as an initiated state statute on November 6, 2018. Arguments against the law point out “flaws” that caused even marijuana supporters to vote no on the measure. Believe it or not, this is good news for people who ultimately want to legalize recreational marijuana in the state. This type of opposition means the chances are high of a revised measure eventually passing into law.
The Future of Marijuana Legalization in Arizona
So far, nine states and Washington, D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. Surveys have shown an increase in the number of people throughout the country who support the legalization of cannabis over the last ten years. Some believe it is only a matter of time before Arizona follows suit and legalizes some version of Prop 205 or a similar law, while others aren’t so sure. Keep your eye on the upcoming ballots for the opportunity to vote one way or the other on the next recreational marijuana legalization effort in Arizona, and speak with a criminal defense attorney in Glendale if you need assistance with a marijuana-related charge.