The editorial board of the Aztec Press highly recommends a “yes” vote on Proposition 205, the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative.
The general election will be held Tuesday, Nov. 8. Register to vote by Oct. 10 if you want a say in the outcome.
Arizona and four other states can join Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia in legalizing the sale, distribution and regulation of marijuana.
It’s about time.
A yes vote would allow persons age 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, and grow up to six plants in their residence. It would also create a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate the industry.
Proceeds from a 15 percent sales tax would go into a Marijuana Fund controlled by the DMLC. Funds would be distributed to school districts, charter schools and the Arizona Department of Health.
A fiscal analysis by Arizona’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimated Prop. 205 would generate an additional $53.4 million in government revenue in fiscal 2019 and $82 million in fiscal 2020.
The JLBC study also found that 6.2 percent of all 2014 Arizona arrests were marijuana related. In the prison population, 4.5 percent of inmates are locked up due to a marijuana-related offense.
Therefore, legalization could help relieve taxpayer burdens by decreasing arrests and incarcerations.
Just don’t tell that to opponents.
The usual suspects make up Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, the main organization opposing Prop. 205.
You have a law enforcement representative in Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk, a social conservative in radio host Seth Leibsohn and a grieving parent in Sally Schindel.
The group has received endorsements from big guns in Arizona Republican circles, including Gov. Doug Ducey and U.S. Rep. Trent Franks, and from police unions.
Their main argument? It’s basically a repackaging of “Reefer Madness,” i.e. the “gateway” drug theory.
The only new argument is a connection to the current opiate epidemic.
At a recent press conference, Ducey let fly this gem in reference to legal marijuana: “If we want to expand this universe of people that are addicted and abusing drugs, well you’ll have that chance in November.’’
During the same speech he touted his (weak) executive orders targeting opiate addiction by requiring doctors to more heavily regulate opioid prescriptions.
One might wonder if Ducey believes vanilla ice cream is a “gateway cream.”
While it may be tempting to laugh at ridiculous arguments from the “no” side, it’s worth remembering the message may resonate with a demographic that votes.
That’s why we think voting yes on Prop. 205 is vitally import to personal liberty. Whether or not you enjoy an occasional jazz cigarette, let’s end this nasty experiment with marijuana prohibition.
Written on behalf of the Aztec Press editorial board by Editor in Chief Eddie Celaya.