(Courtesy of the American Heart Association)
PHOENIX – Arizona voters will decide whether the state joins nearly a dozen others across the nation that have legalized recreational marijuana when they head to the polls on Nov. 3.
The measure, known as Proposition 207, would let people 21 and older possess up to an ounce of marijuana or a smaller quantity of “concentrates” such as hashish, allow for the sale of recreational marijuana at licensed retailers and for people to grow their own plants.
The measure called the Smart and Safe Arizona Act also levies a 16% excise tax on pot, on top of the standard sales tax that goes to state and local governments.
The proceeds from the excise tax, which the Legislature’s budget analysts estimate will bring in $166 million a year once the marijuana market matures, would go to community colleges, local police and fire agencies, local and state transportation projects and public health and criminal justice programs. Including state and local sales taxes, the analysis estimates $255 million a year in new revenue.
The measure’s proponents argue it is time for the state to finally rescind its punitive penalties on marijuana, test marijuana being consumed and cut down on crime and costs associated with smuggling and illicit sales.
“At the end of the day we’re going to mitigate the black market, you’re going to make the market safer and you’re going to generate hundreds of millions of dollars of new revenue for programs that all Arizonans support – community colleges, roads, local public safety issues,” said Chad Campbell, chairman of the committee backing the measure. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Not so fast, opponents say. They argue the measure, which is backed by the legal marijuana industry, would lock in a new class of businesses that has first