420,000 Signatures for November Ballot from Backers of Arizona’s Recreational Marijuana Measure

Officials reported Wednesday that a measure aiming to legalize adult recreational marijuana use was filed with 420,000 signatures to be considered for the ballot in November.

The measure technically needs no more than 237,645 signatures to be presented to voters. Even though it is the norm to collect many more signatures than are required, the Smart and Safe Arizona campaign estimated the number of actual collected signatures as a reference to the popular number “420” in the cannabis culture.

This measure would see those that are 21 and older to have up to one ounce of marijuana and have taxes 16% higher than regular sales taxes. Much of the regulation would be left to the Department of Health Services, and new revenues would be directed towards public safety and community colleges.

Disputing the amount of valid signatures is not an uncommon strategy to keep unwanted measures off the ballot, so it is likely that opponents of the bill will seek to challenge it.

Arizona will be the twelfth state in the US to legally allow recreational marijuana use if the bill is approved.

The deadline for filing the signatures is Thursday. There are also initiatives regarding the Invest in Education Act, looking to raise up to $1 billion towards education by means of taxing the state’s richest residents.

There is also an act designed to make changes to state sentencing laws called the Second Chances, Rehabilitation and Public Safety Act.

After opposing a similar effort in 2016, the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry is once again opposing this measure.

The senior vice president of government relations and communications for the chamber, Garrick Taylor, said that more harm than good will come from legalization.

Backers say that Arizonans are ready to legalize cannabis

The dispensaries that would end up controlling a majority of recreational sales said that they have confidence that the measure will indeed pass.

Arizona Dispensary Association President Steve White, CEO of Harvest Health and Recreation, has stated in a press release that, “Arizonans are ready to legalize cannabis and this is the right policy for our state. New jobs and revenue are even more critical, today, than when we embarked on this campaign last year.”

Harvest has also been able to put its foot in the door to other states in addition to its various dispensaries in Arizona.

Other key provisions about the measure include:

– The Department of Health Services would be required to create guidelines and procedures to follow for stores to be able to sell marijuana no later than June 1, 2021.
– Marijuana would be taxed as a retail good by Arizona and its municipalities, with no restrictions in use of those tax dollars.
– Adults would be allowed up to one ounce of marijuana, and no more than five grams of that can be marijuana concentrate.
– Marijuana products cannot in any circumstances resemble insects, fruits, humans, animals, cartoons, or toys. Things like gummy worms or gummy bears would not be allowed.
– A 16% additional excise tax would be applied to marijuana products.
– The extra revenue from the excise tax would go to funding various state agencies like DHS and Department of Public Safety.
– Adults would be allowed to have up to six marijuana plants in their home, with a maximum of twelve if a home has multiple adults.
– The act does not force employers to allow use of recreational marijuana while working.
– The act does not permit the use of marijuana in restaurants, city parks, or other such public areas.
– The act does not permit the use of vehicles, be they cars, boats, planes, or any other type of vehicle while even slightly under the influence of marijuana.
– The act does not impose on the rights of employers who wish to keep their workplaces drug free, and does not impose on the employer’s right to establish restrictions of marijuana use by workers or applicants.

The Secretary of State’s Office will have until July 30 to submit a random sample of the 420,000 filed signatures to the county recorders, who will then have another 15 days to verify said signatures.

The deadline for the Secretary of State’s Office to review the sample results is three days from receiving them, and by which time they must also send notification to the governor and issue a receipt to the sponsoring committee of the measure.