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Bill Coates

Stoners could be funding improvements to Interstate 10. It’s right there in the Stoners for Legal Doobies Act.

Well, that’s not the formal title. It’s actually the Smart and Safe Arizona Act. Come to think of it, that would be a good name for a COVID-19 mask mandate.

But this measure is all about pot. It would legalize the sale and use of recreational marijuana. That’s on top of medical marijuana, already available.

The proposed initiative is 17 pages long. It reads like it was written by sober-minded lawyers. So pretty technical stuff.

For example, when it comes to marijuana, here’s what’s OK: … “possessing, consuming, purchasing, processing, manufacturing by manual mechanical means, including sieving or ice water separation …”

OK, stop there. I’ll bring in a stoner expert to explain that one.

“What’s that all about?”

“Ice water separation, dude. You know what I mean. It’s like cold water, but colder. Then it separates the weed. ’Cause, dude, that’s what ice water does. And then, you make ice tea with it. Talk about summer refreshment. Cool, huh?”

OK, I fabricated the stoner quote. I googled: “What does ice water marijuana separation mean?”

It’s a way to make ice-water hash. Sounds like strong tea to me.

I was fairly buzzed myself when I read the proposed initiative. On coffee, that is.

Here’s my understanding about the highway funding part. (Aided by reporting from Capitol Media Service’s Howie Fischer.) A 16% tax on marijuana sales and other fees would go into a special fund. Some of it would pay for administering the program and other expenses.

Most would go to community colleges, firefighters and police, and the Highway User Revenue Fund. HURF, as it’s affectionately known, pays for building and maintaining our state highways. HURF would get a quarter of the weed pot.

There’s nothing in the language about a special fund within the special fund for stoner-friendly freeways. Say a special lane on I-10 with big cushiony bumpers and a 12 mph speed limit.

Actually, the initiative would make stoner driving illegal. I know what you’re thinking: “Whoa, dude, those doobie metabolites can show up in your pee after you’re dead.”

Well, maybe they don’t hang around that long. But the initiative doesn’t mention metabolites. As proposed, the act would “not allow driving, flying or boating while impaired to the slightest degree.”

Sounds strict. But it probably gives a good defense attorney something to work with. It wouldn’t help your case, though, if you blurted out something like, “Officer, I am soooo wasted.”

I bring all this up now because the initiative appears likely to get a spot on the November ballot. So you might have to choose. Do you want an occasional toke, or do you stick with beer?

Backers filed the needed signatures — and then some — with the secretary of state in early July. The courts will likely have the last say.

An opposition group has sued to keep marijuana off the ballot. It’s called Arizonans for Health and Public Safety. That’s another good name for a COVID-mask mandate. But the anti-dopers got there first. They’re even registered with the Arizona Corporation Commission. So is Smart and Safe Arizona, for that matter.

I checked out the donors’ list on the secretary of state’s website. The pro-pot group has a ton of cash. The biggest single donor is Harvest Enterprises, a big player in the legal marijuana business. It donated nearly $1.5 million in the quarter ending June 30.

Harvest got its start in Arizona, growing and dispensing medical marijuana.

On the opposing side, the political action arm of the Center for Arizona Policy donated $100,000. The center is a conservative family-oriented group. The kind of family popular in the 1950s. Suburban. Republican. White.

June Cleaver was a role model. You wouldn’t catch her toking up. She was just happy to clean house and make cookies for Beaver and his friends. All while wearing a flouncy dress.

Rest assured my own 1950s mother never smoked pot. I remember she once shared afternoon beers with a neighbor, another housewife. They sat around the ’50s Formica-style kitchen table. I sat with them. I was maybe 5 or 6. I remember they were drinking Hamm’s, which had a TV jingle: “From the land of sky blue waters … Hamm’s the beer refreshing.”

It was sung to an Indian drumbeat, with dancing bears. You might wonder, what were they smoking?

For the record, my mom rarely quaffed beer, day or night. I only recall the one time. Maybe next year’s moms will be passing joints. Once the kids can go back to school.

Not schools funded by pot, though. No special-fund money would go to K-through-12 education, as opponents pointed out. Maybe it’s a matter of optics. Reefers for the classroom might not go over too well.

The effort to keep pot off the ballot hinges on the petition’s 100-word summary. Secretary of state guidelines say the summary “must cover the principal provisions of the measure to be initiated or referred.” Italics theirs. It can’t go over 100 words.

The lawsuit claims the Smart and Safe summary misled petition signers. It fell short in defining marijuana, for one thing. It didn’t say marijuana means more than just love grass. But also more potent forms like hashish.

The summary says … “marijuana (as defined) …” And the initiative definition says marijuana includes derivatives. Gummies would be cool.

But sorry, no gummy bears. The proposal would bar the sale of edibles resembling people or animals. So no getting high on Mickey Mouse macaroons. Not legally anyway.

My take? I’m still working on a good name for a pro-mask mandate. Maybe something like “Arizonans for ‘Hey, Wear a Mask!’”


Reach contributing writer Bill Coates at


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