Arizona Marijuana: Five Key Takeaways


Nov. 23 2019, Published 4:00 p.m. ET

Arizona is a conservative state when it comes to marijuana laws. The state allowed the use of medical marijuana in 2010. The proposal for allowing medical marijuana passed after years of failed propositions.

Currently, recreational marijuana is illegal in the state. However, the state is preparing for a proposition to allow recreational marijuana in 2020. Here are the top five things you need to know about marijuana in Arizona:

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Current marijuana laws in Arizona

In 2010, voters passed Proposition 203 to allow medical marijuana. This law got a 50.1% vote. This law allows doctors to recommend the product for certain conditions. Also, this law allows patients to hold up to 2.5 ounces of medical cannabis. Further, there are around 130 dispensaries in Arizona. The law also allows the patients to grow their own cannabis if they live more than 25 miles away from a dispensary.

Some of the qualifying conditions are glaucoma, cancer, HIV, AIDS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, Crohn’s disease, severe and chronic pain, and hepatitis C. Almost 88% of patients in Arizona are qualified for the medical marijuana card due to chronic pain. More than 193,000 Arizonans hold medical marijuana cards.

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Recreational marijuana in 2020

Recreational marijuana is currently illegal in Arizona. Having any amount of marijuana without a medical card is considered a criminal offense. There is a new plan to legalize recreational cannabis in the state in 2020. The plan is called “The Smart and Safe Act.” Further, this ballot requires a minimum of 237,645 valid votes by July 2020 to pass.

Key points in the proposed initiative include:

  • 21 years or older can possess a maximum of an ounce of marijuana. Out of this, only five grams can be concentrates.
  • Adults can grow up to six cannabis plants at home. The plan allows 12 plants for a household at most.
  • Smoking marijuana in open or public areas will be prohibited.
  • Property owners will retain the right to prohibit use at their properties.
  • People convicted of using marijuana in smaller amounts can now be expunged from their criminal records.
  • The government can impose a 16% excise tax in addition to regular taxes on cannabis products.

Arizona is very conservative when it comes to marijuana. The medical bill was finally passed in 2010 after two failed plans in 1996 and 2002. Even the successful 2010 bill faced protests from many politicians. It was protested by the Attorney Generals Terry Goddard and Tom Horne, Governor Jan Brewer, and sheriffs and prosecutors of Arizona.

The bill to allow recreational marijuana in 2016 also did not see the light of the day. The plan got 48.7% of the vote and failed. Further, Governor Doug Ducey started a campaign against the bill and raised around $6 million in funds.

Even though the support for recreational marijuana has risen over the years, uncertainty still prevails. Also, the Arizona Cannabis Chamber of Commerce is coming up with its own provisions for the bill. The upcoming bill may still face protests from politicians.

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The public’s view

In the past, most people showed their support for stopping the bill. This is mainly due to years of anti-marijuana campaigning. Many organizations, such as pharmaceutical companies, spent billions of dollars on anti-marijuana propaganda. Also, politicians’ views against recreational marijuana, such as Joe Biden’s recent statement, raised fear among some groups of people.

On a more general note, public opinion is slowly changing as awareness increases. People are learning the facts about marijuana and many other states are allowing adult-use cannabis. According to the latest poll, the bill is supported by 50% of the voters. However, 40% are against it and 10% are still uncertain.

Experts suggest that supporters should aim for 60% as they will face opposing campaigns. Support for the upcoming bill has increased considerably from the 2016 proposition. Also, support has increased in the rural areas of Arizona.

The marijuana market in Arizona

Arizona is the sixth largest state in the US. It is home to 7 million people. Currently, 130 medical marijuana dispensaries cater to the needs of 193,000 registered patients in the state. As the licenses for medical dispensaries are extremely limited in the state and recreational marijuana is illegal, users resort to illegal sources.

In recent news, police arrested 14 people for illegally delivering marijuana. This black market is running in the Phoenix area. Similar problems of illegal delivery and sales are rising in the state.


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