Highlights of MPP’s Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative (AZ-CRMLA)


Two days ago, we looked deep into the latest amendments to the Sean Parker-led initiative to legalize marijuana in 2016 in California. Yesterday, we looked at MPP’s initiative already on the ballot to legalize marijuana in Nevada.

Today, we look at MPP’s Arizona marijuana legalization initiative, which has banked 100,000 signatures so far, about two-thirds of the goal. The complete text with hyperlinks and my notations (as my math teacher would say, “show your work”) is available as a PDF download. Here are the highlights:

Personal Possession and Cultivation: An adult 21 years of age or older may possess one ounce of marijuana in public, of which 5 grams may be concentrates (i.e., if you have 5 grams extract on you, you can only have another 23 grams of flower.) Adults may cultivate 6 cannabis plants at home with a max of twelve per household, and it would seem that this law would override Arizona’s infamous “25 mile halo” rule that forbids medical home growing within 25 miles of a dispensary. Marijuana must be kept out of public view.

Illegal Acts: Processing solvent hash oil is a class 6 felony with up to a year in prison. Public toking or letting people under 21 into a marijuana establishment is a $300 fine. Using a fake ID or trying to get adults to buy marijuana for you if you’re under 21 is a $300 fine with 24 hours community service, as is sharing marijuana between people under age 21 who are within 2 years of each other’s age. Possession between 1oz and 2.5oz for people 21 and older is decriminalized to a $300 fine.

Consumer Rights: Employers can still use metabolite testing (pee tests) to discriminate against marijuana consumers. However, the state is barred from using metabolites as the sole reason for punishing a marijuana consumer, which would seemingly end Arizona’s draconian per se DUID charges based on marijuana metabolites. Landlords can ban cultivation and smoking in their properties, but not possession and non-smoked consumption. Child custody and parental rights for cannabis consumers are protected.

Marijuana Regulation: A new Marijuana Licenses and Control commission is established which shall regulate both medical and commercial marijuana in Arizona.

Retail Shops: There can be only one pot shop for every ten liquor stores (current liquor stores would allow for 149 pot shops statewide.) Existing medical dispensaries can become co-located pot shops. Adult sales begin March 1, 2018, and if the state doesn’t issue licenses by then, existing medical dispensaries can sell to all adults.

Marijuana Deliveries / Pot Lounges: Cannot happen until 2020 at the earliest, if the department decides they should be allowed at all.

Commerical Licenses: Cultivators will be established in tiers, with the largest tier being unlimited-size grows, and applicants not already medical marijuana growers limited to the smallest tier at first. Licensees can have no felonies within the past five years and must locate at least 500 feet from schools. Licenses cost a non-refundable $5,000 application fee plus $10,000 to $30,000 per license. Half of the license fees go to the localities, the rest to the marijuana fund.

Medical Marijuana Priority: The existing medical marijuana licensees get priority in licensing and a three-month head start on applying for licenses, starting September 1, 2017. Other applicants must wait until December 1, 2017.

Tax Revenue: Marijuana shall be subject to a 15 percent sales tax, with revenues covering regulatory expenses first, and then divided 40 percent to all schools, 40 percent to schools with all-day kindergarten, and 20 percent to state drug prevention.

Local Control: Localities can ban any type of marijuana licensee, unless it is an already existing medical licensee that applies for a new commercial license of the same type. Localities can limit the number of establishments but not below the number of existing medical establishments. Localities can ban cultivation and smoking if it bothers enough people. If the state misses regulatory and licensing deadlines, the localities can establish their own regulations and licensing.

How strange is it that MPP is dismantling the 25-mile home grow halo rule in Arizona, only to institute it in Nevada? How odd is it that MPP provides parental rights protections for all consumers in Arizona, but only for medical consumers in Nevada? MPP gives Arizona’s medical marijuana industry just a three-month head start, but gives Nevada’s an eighteen-month head start, and kills Arizona’s per se DUID  while ignoring Nevada’s.