Arizona Straddles between two initiatives on the road to Legalization
Arizona has long awaited the opportunity to place its name among the progressive states that foresaw the boom of the medical marijuana industry. Although, they may be a few years behind if you go by the activity that being so close to the border already provides. Arizona is a growing state with large universities and a population that treads the lines of retirement and entry level education. The medical marijuana industry has taken off since being initiated in 2012. There are 85 current marijuana dispensaries in the state of Arizona many of which are pushing for the legalization of recreational use. The state government will most likely have to take this matter much more serious as we get closer to the July 7th deadline for petition signatures that are required for the 2016 ballot. As of this moment there are two initiatives that are being petitioned for votes the Arizona Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act Initiative (proposed by the Arizona branch of the Marijuana Policy Project) and the Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana Act (proposed by the campaign to legalize Marijuana).
Arizona Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act
The goal for Arizona is to develop a system that controls the business of marijuana in the state. The specifics pertaining to this initiative are broken down into three main components. Voter approval of this initiative would legalize the possession and consumption of marijuana by anyone over the age of 21. Consumers would be able to grow six plants privately inside of their homes. This initiative would also imply a 15% tax on the sale of marijuana, and revenue from the tax would be distributed to education and healthcare throughout the state.
Regulation is a key part of this bill. Once the measure is approved a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control will be established to police the cultivation, testing, transportation, sales and manufacturing of marijuana. This bill will also empower local governments in limiting and regulating the marijuana business. Making for an easier transition for existing medical marijuana facilities to recreational facilities. Supporters of this bill recently released news that they have reached 140,000 signatures of the 150,642 needed to make the 2016 ballot.
- 15% imposed on sales
- Establishes Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control
- Distributes tax revenue towards state education and healthcare
Arizona Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana Act
Unlike the prior initiative the Arizona Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana Act is more flexible and has an emphasis on the establishing a stronger connection with the community. Although widely supported, it has faced hurdles due to its less than detailed rhetoric on how many plants consumers would be allowed to grow. Which is specifically included in the other initiative. The major proponents of this bill include similar points but also add some interesting twist. The first piece that jumps out in the Act is the decriminalization and reduction of penalties for marijuana offenses. This alone will open up more opportunities to grow the economy, adding tons of qualified workers back to the workforce.
The ALRM Act will establish a 10% tax on retail marijuana sales in which revenue from the tax will be dispersed to public health and the state education system. This bill has a focus on creating a system that helps grow licensed businesses to produce and sell marijuana. The local government will have power to regulate said businesses but the structure of a local system will provide more opportunities for the small time growers to establish businesses in a vastly growing industry. The bill also establishes a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to oversee the marijuana industry while allowing anyone 21 years and older to consume, purchase and grow “limited” amounts of the plant. The Legalization and Regulation of Marijuana Act supporters have confirmed to have reached close to 100,000 signatures of the 150,642 needed by the July 7th deadline.
- 10% tax on retail sales
- Decriminalize marijuana offenses
- Focus on a system for licensing businesses to produce and sell marijuana
As Arizona grows closer to becoming the next state to move forward in the recreational use of marijuana we embark on a much needed discussion to change the perception of the illegal substance. Battling cartels so close to the border has been a major concern of authorities throughout the state but legalization may be the way to deter the illegal activity. In the 4 states that have legalized marijuana the crime rate has also seen a decline. As we understand the strength of the plant more and more other states will begin to see the benefits of legalization.
If you are a supporter of the legalization of the plant, I suggest you sign these petitions and pass on the information. Now that you are aware of the bills that are pushing their way to the public be prepared to make a decision on the direction you want our government to take this industry. More power in the citizen’s hands versus higher taxes and strong limitations on who can maneuver inside the industry is what it really comes down too. The marijuana industry is booming and the benefits that extra tax revenue could do for a state with a struggling education system is unimaginable. Arizona is ranked #48 in school systems and #49 in highest ratio between teachers and students in the country. These are indications of the lack of proper educational funding throughout the state. A boost in the tax revenue through the legalization of marijuana will benefit many lives over the coming decades. Which bill do you think serves the people more directly, and facilitates taking the marijuana industry out of the hands of big corporations in Arizona?