The state of Arizona has not had much luck when it comes to passing marijuana laws. Despite their geographic location putting them close to many states that have progressive weed laws, they still only permit those with qualifying medical conditions to indulge. Nevada, California, and Colorado all allow different legal protections for those older than 21, with some minor differences in what exactly is allowed. This week on July 5th, was the deadline for The Safer Arizona Cannabis Legalization Act to submit the required amount of signatures to qualify for the ballot. Altogether they were able to collect just over 75,000 but the requirement calls for over 150,000. So this initiative missed by a long shot. This is extremely disappointing news and yet another heartbreak for those living there. Just two years back in 2016, a similar initiative had qualified for the ballot but narrowly failed to receive the popular vote. The opposition received more funding than those supporting legalization and it had a major effect. One of the largest donors was Insys Therapeutics a company that produces synthetic painkillers. The pharmaceutical companies have no shame in admitting with their large contributions that they don’t want their drugs to be replaced by something they can not sell and is also not physically addictive.
These large contributions from companies help spread a lot of misinformation about the post-legalization effects that have yet to happen in the 9 states that have legalized it. While different businesses have targeted every single state that has successfully got an initiative on a ballot, they have had very little success outside the state of Arizona recently. Within the past four years, the only other legal marijuana ballot initiative to fail was in 2014 when Florida tried to pass medical marijuana. Many attribute that failure to the high supermajority requirement of 60%. It narrowly missed it with a 57.6% approval vote. These opponents should stop wasting their money on funding the opposition and use it to innovate and react to the change in the economic environment. It should make it easier for them to do so considering people are being thrown in jail and having their future destroyed as a result of their contributions.
This year it seems it should have been easier to reach success considering as more time goes on more people seem to join the marijuana movement. The group collecting signatures, Safer Arizona, claims that the main reason they were not much able to get support was medical marijuana dispensary owners. I believe there are plenty of dispensary owners out there who might not want recreational marijuana to pass yet so that they can cash in as long as possible. However, I also know there are plenty of dispensary owners who can’t wait for legalization because that would give them the opportunity to apply for a license and expand to a larger market with an advantage of already having a location and experience. It would not be easy for dispensaries to convince patients at their stores and other people they know to keep weed illegal and have people continue to get prosecuted for possession. This ballot failure more than likely came down to the group doing a poor job of hiring volunteers or targetting the right locations for signatures. Polls nationwide have shown over 60% of the population wants weed to be legal for adults. There simply is no excuse for them to fail to meet even half the required number of signatures. Hopefully in the future, a more organized campaign can spread the word more efficiently and develop a more solid framework for the bill.