United States: Arizona Passes Initiative To Allow Recreational Marijuana Use
11 November 2020
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Arizona 2020 voters decidedly adopted Proposition 207 – The Smart and Safe Arizona Act – which legalizes the possession and use of marijuana by adults age 21 and over for recreational or non-medicinal use. The initiative passed with roughly a 20% margin. This means that Arizona will join the 14 other jurisdictions (Alaska, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Illinois, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and 2020 election newcomers Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota) that have made adult recreational marijuana use legal under local law. Arizona lawmakers have until April 5, 2021, to promulgate implementing regulations. Qualified early applicants (likely including existing medical marijuana dispensaries) can begin applying for retail licenses with the Arizona Department of Health Services in January 2021, and these licenses could be awarded as early as February 1, 2021.
Proposition 207 does not make marijuana use a free-for-all in Arizona. Rather, several critical restrictions were included in the initiative that protect an employer’s right to regulate work-related drug use. Specifically, the initiative “does not restrict the rights of employers to maintain a drug-and-alcohol-free workplace or affect the ability of employers to have workplace policies restricting the use of marijuana by employees or prospective employees.” Likewise, an employer is not required “to allow or accommodate the use, consumption, possession, transfer, display, transportation, sales or cultivation of marijuana in a place of employment.” The initiative similarly does not restrict employers’ right to “prohibit or regulate conduct otherwise allowed by [Arizona law] when such conduct occurs on or in their properties.” The initiative also specifies that it