Democratic Rep. Mark Cardenas has introduced two marijuana bills this month. House Bill 2003 would legalize recreational marijuana use for adults, and House Bill 2002 would loosen penalties for marijuana possession.
Approximately 15,000 Arizonans are arrested annually for simple marijuana possession charges, according to the Tucson Weekly.
If HB2002 passes, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would become a $100 civil penalty, less than two pounds a petty offense, and anything more a Class 3 misdemeanor.
HB2003 would legalize marijuana use for adults 21 and older. It would also make it into history books because marijuana has never been legalized by a state legislature. Arizona’s Legislature is heavily Republican, leaving Cardenas with a mountain to climb.
If the Legislature were to pass HB2003, it will allow them to fully control the state’s marijuana laws. They could determine the number of cultivators, dispensaries, tax rates, and more. They could also easily change the law, for better or worse; for instance, they could increase or decrease the tax rate or the number of dispensaries on a whim. Whereas, if marijuana legalization passes via a voter ballot initiative, like Proposition 205 attempted in November, it’d be extremely challenging to change any aspect of the law, due to Arizona’s Voter Protection Act which, to an extent, prevents the Legislature from tampering with voter-approved ballot initiatives.