Arizona Public Radio | Your Source for NPR News
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Recreational Marijuana Supporters Try Again to Get a Measure on State Ballot

Arizona voters may get another chance to approve recreational marijuana. Supporters have released a 2020 ballot initiative that would allow people over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of pot.

A state legislative panel is currently going over the language of the proposal to ensure it meets legal muster.

Stacy Pearson is with “Smart and Safe Arizona” the group promoting recreational marijuana in the state. She’s confident the legislative council for review will allow her group to start collecting voter petition signatures after Labor Day.

“We have to gather 240-thousand signatures by Fourth of July…give or take…next year," Pearson said.

Arizona voters killed a recreational marijuana initiative three years ago, but Pearson said supporters have learned from their mistakes and tweaked the measure’s language this time.

“In 2016, this was narrowly defeated because the language wasn’t right. The initiative wasn’t right…it wasn’t the right time as popular as it was. And, that’s going to change this year” she said. 

Pearson said the 2020 initiative makes it much clearer how the state will collect and use tax revenues. She estimated it will generate $300-million a year through sales and excise taxes to fund community colleges, roads and other infrastructure. Plus, money would be dedicated to substance abuse treatment programs. It also would remove marijuana convictions from the records of past offenders.

However, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk said business leaders and law enforcement groups will line up to oppose recreational marijuana if it qualifies for the ballot.

“There are 11 states who have now legalized marijuana for recreational use and the results are disastrous there is not single model out there for successful legalization” Polk said.

Authorities in states where recreational pot is legal say they’re concerned about people driving under the influence.

Arizona became the 15th state to legalize medical marijuana in 2010.

Related Content