Come this November, Arizona may be joining the mounting number of states to legalize recreational marijuana. Earlier this week, activists announced they had collected approximately 420,000 signatures. This should be more than enough for the state to approve a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot in November, so this comes as welcomed good news for the industry and consumers alike.
The group, which calls itself “Smart and Safe Arizona,” only needed 237,645 valid signatures in order to get their measure on the ballot, but with nearly twice that many, the state should have no problem finding enough valid signatures within the current petition.
Being a border-state, Arizona is one of the hardest-hit areas when it comes to drug trafficking, so this push for legalization should kill two birds with one stone for Arizona’s cannabis marketplace. Of course this will stem the growth of the internal black market which is enough of an incentive on it’s own, but advocates have noted something unique about Arizona.
With the exception of California, there are currently no states which border Mexico and have fully legalized, recreational marijuana. The impact of marijuana legalization legislation in Arizona will be significant in reducing drug trafficking across the southern border. The DEA and the FBI have their work cut out for them in Arizona and New Mexico in particular, so advocates hope to see legalized marijuana result in a downturn of drug crime and a healthy economic boom as other states have experienced from the tax revenue generated from cannabis sales.
Some are surprised at the amount of support for Arizona’s proposed legalization initiative, and it’s no wonder why. The state has historically been politically conservative, even if only by a thin margin in recent elections. Typically, this tends to mean more conservative drug policy with a focus on prohibition. Within the cannabis industry, many point to unchanged political demographics alongside the vastly changed feelings on cannabis itself to highlight a new, growing acceptance in American thinking. While it’s too early to tell, more and more red states voting for marijuana legalization may surprise many on the right as recreational cannabis is becoming commonplace.
This decreasing stigma around marijuana legalization is partly in response to cannabis retailers, and dispensaries offering a more upscale and service oriented shopping experience. Now combine that with more advanced security measures to ensure consumer safety and it’s easy to see why residents want the increased tax revenue.
In states like Oregon and Colorado, the active component in magic mushrooms is being pushed as a treatment option for those with serious depression or other mental ailments, and decriminalization is on its way to the November ballot in the former state. Drug policy in this country has long been more draconian than anyone cares to acknowledge. Much of that is based on the war on drugs that successfully convinced the public of dangerous “facts” about many substances, cannabis being one of the most notoriously misrepresented. Seeing this current wave of support for marijuana legalization as well as the structured use of other compounds provides a ray of hope for those in the industry who want to see cannabis grow to its full potential nationwide
Contributed by Rob Docherty