Another attempt to get Arizona voters to approve recreational marijuana was rolled out last week. This follows rejection last year by only 51% of those casting a ballot. With the next general election more than 14 months away, prepare to be bombarded with information and spin.
Opposition by business interests and politicians is forming, and with good cause. States that have legalized marijuana, and the number is growing, have had plenty of problems, some of them involving public safety and increased use by children.
The new effort is being pushed by the existing medical marijuana industry, which is both good and bad. An attempt has been made to make the proposal acceptable to more people. The sales outlets would be limited to basically the existing framework. That is good for the industry and would limit the visibility of the product somewhat. However, the first controversy — besides the whole idea — has arisen. The industry group Smart & Safe Arizona claimed initially that 10 milligrams of THC would be the maximum amount of the psychoactive component allowed in edible products. However, that was false. The measure actually sets 10 milligrams as the minimum. Critics say that is too high, especially for new users.
The biggest problem with voter initiatives is they can be changed only by the voters. To the credit of the backers, they have tried to have the new measure more acceptable. However, legislators are in a quandary with suggestions they should pass a marijuana law to preempt the ballot measure. If they did, they would be approving something that many of them don’t believe is in the state’s best interest, which means it may not happen.
Some patients who earlier used medical marijuana have switched to cannabis products without the THC, removing one argument in favor of medical pot. Yes, taxing recreational marijuana would produce revenue, but it would go only so far while meanwhile, some of government’s costs would rise due to enforcement and dealing with problems. Mexican cartels already are switching some of their resources to opium products, a much larger problem and easier to smuggle.
This pending 2020 issue means Arizonans will have more to be concerned about than just the presidential election.