Voters solidly approve recreational marijuana

The recreational marijuana proposition has passed in Arizona, as well as Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota, making 15 states and the District of Columbia where recreational marijuana is legal.

By Jon Johnson

PHOENIX – Voters in Arizona solidly approved Proposition 107 in yesterday’s election, legalizing the use of recreational marijuana for adults aged 21 and older.

With 99% of precincts reporting, the proposition has passed by about a 60% to 40% margin, with 1,596,548 votes for and 1,071,255 votes against.

Locally, Graham County voted against the proposition with 7,797 against and 5,855 for, while Greenlee County voted in favor with 1,711 for and 1,250 against. Graham, Apache, and Navajo counties were the only counties out of Arizona’s 15 to vote against the proposition.  

Recreational legalization of cannabis passed in Arizona, Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota. Those states now join the District of Columbia and 11 other states that have already legalized the adult use of cannabis for recreational purposes.  

The proposition legalizes the possession and use of up to one ounce of marijuana for adults (21 and older) who will be permitted to grow no more than six plants in their residences, as long as the plants are within a lockable enclosed area and beyond public view. The new law takes effect Nov. 30 when election results are made official.  

The proposition places a 16% tax on marijuana sales in addition to the existing transaction privilege tax and use tax. Revenue from the new tax will be divided between community college districts; municipal police, sheriff, and fire departments; fire districts; the state’s Highway User Revenue Fund, and a new Justice Reinvestment Fund. Sales could begin as early as March.

Jon Johnson File Photo/Gila Herald: The Natural Remedy Patient Center will be the first location in Graham County allowed to apply for a license to sell recreational marijuana.

License applications to sell cannabis, cultivation facilities, and production facilities are under the purview of the Arizona Department of Health Services, which must accept license applications from existing nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries first. There are roughly 120 medical marijuana dispensaries currently in operation throughout the state. The proposition also establishes “social equity” licenses for communities that have been historically disenfranchised by marijuana laws. The determination of who is eligible to apply for those licenses is also under the purview of the ADHS.  

The proposition also allows people who were previously convicted of marijuana crimes to have their records expunged by the courts.

Arizona previously passed the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act by a slim margin of 50.13% of votes in 2010. It was the third statewide medical marijuana measure to be passed in Arizona. In 1996, voters approved an initiative for doctors to “prescribe” cannabis instead of recommending, and it was rejected by the state legislature. Voters approved a ballot measure in 1998 for doctors to “prescribe” cannabis, but since only medicines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration are allowed to be “prescribed” it never went into effect.

Marijuana remains illegal on a federal level, with the United States Drug Enforcement Agency keeping it listed as a Schedule I drug, along with heroin, LSD, Ecstasy, and peyote. By contrast, Schedule II drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, fentanyl, and oxycodone.  

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