TUCSON - Recreational marijuana gets another chance in front of voters this November.
Four years ago, Arizonans narrowly rejected a similar measure.
Supporters say the dynamics this year should help in the push for legalization.
If Prop 207, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act passes, Arizona would be the twelve state nationwide to legalize recreational pot.
Tucson’s Moe Asnani owns two medical marijuana dispensaries.
“People nowadays feel cannabis is normalized,” Asnani said. “Be it for medical use or adult, it has become part of the American ecosystem.”
Recreational cannabis could give a big jolt to Arizona’s economy. One study estimates the passage of Prop 207 would boost revenue by $300 Million. Asnani argues the time is now.
“Today, in the world of COVID, nothing has been more obvious than the fact people are buying more marijuana in stressful scary times like the pandemic,” he said. “I think we’re now on a trajectory to force ourselves out of this economic downturn we’re in.”
“This is a scheme to allow them to turn Arizona into a commercial marijuana state where they reap millions upon millions of dollars and the rest of us pay the price,” Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk said.
Polk has long been on the front lines opposing recreational marijuana.
She contends any dollars the state takes in will be offset by expenses in other areas.
“Health care, education, prosecuting DUIs, lost lives where people are killed on our roadway by a marijuana impaired driver,” Polk said. “Legalized marijuana means more people using, means more stoned drivers.”
The initiative would allow adults 21 and over to possess one ounce of pot. An individual can cultivate up to six plants and household no more than 12.
There would be a 16 percent additional tax on the sale of marijuana.
Recreational pot would still be illegal in public places including parks, restaurants and sidewalks.
“The Arizona legislature cannot fix it if it passes,” Polk said. “When a law becomes a law at the ballot box through this initiative process, the governor can’t veto it and the legislature can’t fix it.”
But Asnani believes Arizona is now ready to make the leap.
“I think the country’s changed,” Asnani said. “I think the country has changed so much in the last few years that there are certain sides of this argument that are completely mute. We have all the right ingredients to make it happen in 2020.”
If it passes, recreational pot will go on sale April 5, 2021.