Arizona to Vote on Adult Use Marijuana

A recreational marijuana initiative has officially qualified for the Arizona ballot after a judge rejected challenge from an opposition group.

Arizona has become the fifth state that will be voting on recreational marijuana come November. If it passes, Proposition 205 will legalize up to 1 ounce of marijuana for adults 21 years and older and allow the cultivation of six marijuana plants per house.

The campaign behind Proposition 205, the Marijuana Policy Project, collected enough signatures for the initiative to qualify for the ballot. An opposition group did challenge the initiative in court, but a judge rejected that challenge last week.

Under the law, marijuana sales would be subject to a 15 percent tax. Eighty percent of the revenue would go to school districts and charter schools, weighted based on student population. A portion of the money would be earmarked for construction and teacher salaries. The other 20 percent would go to the state’s health department for public education on the harms of alcohol and drug use. The law would also establish the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, which would be responsible for regulating marijuana in the state.

If polls are any indication, the initiative has a tough hill to climb with Arizona voters. An O.H. Predictive Insights poll from July found that a majority of Arizona adults are not in support of adopting the legislation.

“Thirty-nine percent of Arizonans would approve the measure while about 52.5 percent said they would vote ‘no,’ and then you’re sitting with about 8.5 percent undecided,” said Mike Noble, managing partner and chief pollster at O.H. Predictive Insights. Just 45.5 percent responded they would vote ‘yes’.”

Some believe the measure is expected to bring out more young voters, however, which have been found to be more supportive of marijuana legalization than older generations.

“[The measure] will draw heavy support from younger voters,” said Chris Herstam, political strategist. Herstam has said he believes there will be more 18 to 29 year-olds that turn out to the polls. “It really doesn’t matter when you’re Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, independent — it’s one of those issues that transcends the normal political world,” he said.

If Arizonans do pass Proposition 205, the state stands to generate more than $60 million in marijuana tax revenue annually, according to an independent analysis published last fall by Arizona’s nonprofit Grand Canyon Institute.

The report also projected that if a recreational measure were to pass in 2016, by 2019 the state would bring in $72 million annually, with $58 million going to education.

“You can debate whether marijuana should be made legal for adults, but there’s no arguing the fact that this initiative will generate significant revenue for Arizona schools,” J.P. Holyoak, chairman of Marijuana Policy Project’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, said in a statement in response to the report. “It might not be enough to solve all of our schools’ budget problems, but it will help immensely.”

The others four states that will be voting on recreational marijuana legalization this November include California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada. Voters in Arkansas and Florida will decide on medical marijuana initiatives. If Arizona voters pass Proposition 205, it will take effect September 1, 2018.

Learn more about Arizona’s current marijuana laws by visiting our education page.