Arizona voters should see marijuana legalization this fall

Proposed legislation that may be on the ballot in Arizona this fall would drastically change the state’s position on marijuana.

This fall, people in Arizona may have the chance to legalize marijuana. According to 12 News, a petition needs 100,000 signatures to make it on the ballot, and advocates for marijuana legalization collected and turned in 260,000.

Everyone in the state should understand what the proposed legislation would look like. It is a sharp contrast to what current laws hold.

Current marijuana laws

Currently, the possession, production and use of marijuana is a crime in Arizona. The law states that even possessing less than 2 pounds of the substance is considered a class 6 felony, even if there is no intent to sell. A conviction of a charge such as this could result in as much as 18 months in prison and fines of up to $150,000. More serious crimes, such as producing or selling marijuana, carry even more serious sentences.

Simply possessing drug paraphernalia is also unlawful and classified as a felony. A conviction of such a charge can also result in jail time and substantial fines.

Proposed law

The new law, dubbed the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, would permit people to use and possess as much as an ounce of the substance as well as up to six marijuana plants. Further, the law suggests the following:

  • Using marijuana and driving would still be illegal.
  • Businesses could sell marijuana and edible products starting in March 2018 for those 21 and older.
  • A state agency would regulate these sales.

The law also proposes that the sale of marijuana would be taxed at a rate of 15 percent. This money would fund school programs. The report from 12 News states that in the first year of legalized recreational marijuana, schools would receive as much as $30 million, growing to $54 million the second year.

Medical marijuana

Arizona has already legalized medical marijuana. The Arizona Medical Marijuana Act passed in 2010 and permits qualifying patients to use the substance. To qualify, someone must have received a diagnosis from a physician certified with the state. Those diagnoses are limited to a set list of conditions, such as glaucoma, seizures and cancer.

Patients who qualify are able to possess and use up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana every two weeks. Additionally, they are permitted to grow as many as 12 plants. Caregivers who are certified with the states are also allowed to possess and grow the same amounts for each qualifying patient they have.

The new law could drastically change not only the way marijuana use and possession is treated, but it may also be beneficial for the state's schools. In the meantime, it is still against the law to possess marijuana, and people facing such charges should immediately contact a criminal defense attorney.

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