Arizonans may once again have the chance to vote for legalization of recreational marijuana, thanks to House Concurrent Resolution 2037, (HCR 2037) sponsored by Rep. Mark Cardenas (D-District 19) and Rep. Todd Clodfelter (R-District 10). It now requires passage by the Arizona House and Senate before it can be seen on November ballots.
Our most recent opportunity in the form of Prop 205 may have failed, in part, because it gave priority in licensing to existing marijuana businesses, leaving only a precious few licenses open to free-market competition.
Second, the opposing group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy (ARDP) had many wealthy donors and was able to launch a lengthy, well-planned campaign to “educate voters about the full range of consequences” of Prop 205.
Kathy Inman, Executive Director of MomForceAZ told me, “The people of Arizona were absolutely misled about Prop 205 by the opposition. Gov. Doug Ducey launched a robocall campaign the night before the election literally lying to voters about Prop 205.”
Inman added, “The schools in Colorado definitely received the funding promised from their state’s legalization of marijuana. The schools who needed the money and were marked to receive the funds received the millions they’d been promised. The schools that reported receiving no additional funds were those in wealthier school districts which were already well-equipped, and so weren’t earmarked for the funds.”
HCR 2037 would refer a ballot measure to Arizona voters to allow adults 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal use and grow up to six plants. One reason this effort may succeed where past efforts have failed is because it’s a bipartisan effort, making it easier for Republican legislators to support.
Another important reason this bill may have more chance of passing is that it refers the matter to the voters rather than the Legislature, which may make this bill more palatable to lawmakers. In addition, the resolution allows each city and town in Arizona the right to ban (or not) the sale of recreational pot. Kathy Inman hopes we will have even more options by November.
One major remaining obstacle is the federal law enacted by Richard Nixon which classifies cannabis in Schedule 1, the most dangerous controlled substances group. In 1972 the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse recommended that cannabis prohibition end, which would remove it from Schedule I. Instead, Nixon disregarded the compelling results of his own appointed commission, and four decades later, cannabis remains a Schedule I drug along with heroin, ‘ecstacy,’ and LSD.
In 1996 California became the trail-blazer by legalizing medical marijuana. Since then, 30 states, including Arizona and D.C. have followed suit, and ten of those jurisdictions have fully legalized marijuana. One day soon the power struggle must be resolved between the states and the federal government as to who has jurisdiction over this issue.
People use cannabis for as many reasons as there are users, and they know that although proponents of legalization may not match the funds of wealthy opponents, our numbers are growing. One day soon we may just speak louder about the truthful benefits of cannabis than the lies of big pharmacy companies, investors, and the private prison systems which reap scandalous profits from incarcerating even small-time pot users.
Until then, keep watching, keep talking, keep voting, and consider using your powers as a consumer to research who is making decisions for your life. Step up and speak your mind to where you choose to do business.
Below is a partial list of donors to ARDP:
- Bruce Halle of Discount Tire Co.
- Sheldon Adelson of the Sands, the Venetian, and the Las Vegas Review-Journal
- Insys Therapeutics of Chandler, manufacturer of fentanyl, (a drug which killed over 20,000 users in 2016, says the CDC)
- Don Luke, of Bill Luke Chrysler