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18 Must-Know Facts About the New 2020 Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative

Arizona Recreational Adult Use Marijuana Ballot Initiative Campaign

A highly supported campaign for a 2020 ballot initiative to legalize adult-use (recreational) marijuana in Arizona has officially launched. The initiative and campaign are known as the “Smart and Safe Arizona Act.”

The campaign is attempting to obtain approximately 230,000 valid signatures by July 2020 in order to qualify for the November 2020 ballot. If the initiative passes, it would legalize marijuana in Arizona.

Here are 18 facts about the initiative:

1. Adults (21+) would be able to possess 1 ounce of marijuana with no more than 5 grams of it being marijuana concentrates (extracts).
2. Limits home cultivation to 6 plants at an individual’s primary residence and 12 plants at a residence where two or more individuals who are at least 21 years old reside at one time.
3. The Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS), which regulates the state’s existing medical marijuana program, would have to establish recreational marijuana rules on or before June 1, 2021.
4. A 16% excise tax (the same as cigarettes and alcohol) would be placed on recreational marijuana products. Money from the excise tax would fund various state agencies and be dispersed between community college districts, police and fire departments, and the Highway User fund.
5. Marijuana use would remain illegal in public places (restaurants, parks, sidewalks, etc). Offenders are guilty of a petty offence.
6. No marijuana products could be sold that imitate brands marketed to children or look like humans, animals, insects, fruits, toys or cartoons.
7. Marijuana edibles will be limited to a maximum of 10mg of THC per edible, and limited to a maximum of 100mg of THC per package of edibles.
8. Employers have the right to maintain a drug- and alcohol-free workplace.
9. Driving, flying or boating impaired to even the slightest degree by marijuana would remain illegal (i.e., zero tolerance rule).
10. Marijuana testing facilities will test marijuana for harmful contaminants (i.e., pesticides, molds, etc).
11. “Qualified early applicants” (qualifications are currently undetermined) can apply for a recreational dispensary license (approx. 145 licenses will be available) with the DHS. Any remaining or additional licenses will be provided by random selection.
12. The DHS may issue a marijuana establishment license (recreational marijuana dispensary license) to no more than two recreational dispensaries per county that contains no medical marijuana dispensaries, or one recreational dispensary license per county that contains one medical marijuana dispensary (the DHS will accept applications from Jan 19, 2021 – Mar 9, 2021).
13. On or before April 5, 2021, medical marijuana dispensaries will be able to sell recreational marijuana to adults until the DHS issues licenses for recreational dispensaries.
14. Medical marijuana dispensaries that obtain a recreational marijuana dispensary license(s) could operate both entities in the same/shared location.
15. Possessing more than one ounce but less than 2.5 ounces would be a petty offense. Minors caught with less than one ounce would receive up to a $100 fine and four hours of drug counseling for a first offense. A second offense would be up to a $100 fine and eight hours of drug counseling. A third offense would be a Class 1 misdemeanor.
16. Smoking in a public place would be a petty offense.
17. On or after Jan 1, 2023, the DHS can adopt rules to permit recreational marijuana deliveries.
18. Beginning on July 12, 2021, people convicted previously of possessing less than an ounce of marijuana or six or fewer plants or paraphernalia can petition to have the record expunged.

View the Smart and Safe Arizona Act.

In 2016, Proposition 205, an initiative attempting to legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona, failed 48.23% to 51.77%. This failure was, in part, due to pro-marijuana Arizonans vying for multiple initiatives instead of compromising on Prop 205, which was by far the most popular initiative with the best chance of winning. If Arizonans had joined forces, Prop 205 would have passed and adults in Arizona could have been enjoying legalized recreational cannabis for the past few years.

Hopefully, all pro-marijuana Arizonans will learn from past mistakes, join forces, and vote “yes” for the marijuana legalization ballot initiative with the best chance of winning — the Smart and Safe Arizona Act.

*We will post any updates on this page (such as where to sign the ballot measure, how to volunteer for or donate to the campaign). You can easily find this page via the “2020” tab on the menu bar.

Photo: Gage Skidmore/Flickr CC2.0 Modified.