I just received a copy of the Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona’s draft for the 2016 Arizona Recreational Marijuana Act. The proposed initiative will decriminalize marijuana (in limited quantities) and allow its possession and growth by everyone over 21 years of age.
Here is my take on it, from the point of view of various segments of society:
Consumers: Can grow 6 plants and don’t need a special card to purchase recreational marijuana. Consumers don’t even have to be a state resident to get high in two totally different ways over the Grand Canyon (aside from the federal land issue). Consumers can possess up to 1 ounce at a time, including up to 5 grams of extracts, waxes, etc. Tinctures and edibles are treated fairly. Consumers can still only consume marijuana on private property, with permission of the property owner. The DUI standards are clarified to just and only require proof that the driver was actually “impaired” in order to be convicted, rather than basing charges on the presence of metabolites of THC in one’s system.
The tax rate is 15%, plus the usual sales taxes. No need to by a card. Marijuana must be tested, which will raise the price, but make it safer, at least theoretically.
The penalty of possession of more than 1 oz., but less than 2.5 oz is a “petty offense,” like littering, subject to a fine of no more than $300.00.
Businesses: For those that are already in or want to get into the marijuana business, there will be two Gold Rushes. Some existing licensees (licensed dispensaries) and their board members will have the exclusive right to become recreational marijuana cultivators and licensed retail recreational marijuana shops, until July 1, 2019. It makes sense on many levels. Unless you are willing to wait until July 2, 2019, if you are not already a board member of a medical marijuana dispensary when the Act passes in November, 2016, you won’t be happy.
On the other hand, subject to rules to be adopted by ADHS, you can still become a licensed “marijuana distributor” (wholesaler and/or delivery service) of a licensed “marijuana cultivator.” You can even become a licensed wholesale “marijuana product manufacturer” of edibles, tinctures, wax, etc., without owning a dispensary or cultivation site.
The cost of getting into recreational business is “grandormous,” presumably to discourage the timid or weak. Dispensaries: $20,000 the first year; $6,600.00 thereafter. Cultivators: $30,000.00 the first year; $10,000 thereafter. Product Manufacturers, infusers, kitchens: $10,000 plus the cost of government compliance; $3,300.00 thereafter. “Marijuana distributors,” delivery services and wholesalers of licensed recreational cultivation and/or maybe dispensary supplied medicine: $15,000 the first year; $5,000 thereafter. Testing facilities: $15,000, plus the cost of government compliance; $5,000.00 thereafter.
Oh, by the way, I forgot to tell you that the recreational program, including the millions it expects to raise, is going to be run by the Arizona Department of Gaming, not the Arizona Department of Health Services. Perhaps we will be seeing advertisements that say something like: “You’ll benefit more by using marijuana legally, than playing the lottery.”
Jeffrey S. Kaufman, Esq.
5725 N. Scottsdale Road, Ste. 190
Scottsdale, AZ 85254.