by Michael Arbizo
The whole nation waits in anticipation to see what changes will come from the November presidential elections. But the biggest changes will actually happen on local and state levels. General elections contain potential legislation that will affect us more directly. If certain measures are passed, we could see lots of change coming right here to Arizona.
One of the most controversial measures up for vote is Proposition 205, which would make it legal to get high (on marijuana). There is a lot more to it than that, of course. There is always fine print to investigate when it comes to any piece of legislation.
If approved by voters Prop 205 will allow individuals age 21 or older to possess (up to one ounce), grow (up to six plants), and purchase marijuana from state-licensed facilities for personal use. This means marijuana would be regulated like alcohol, but it could only be used recreationally in the privacy of an individual’s home and not in public.
Proposition 205 would also generally declare violations of the act (including public use) a petty offense punishable by no more than a $300 fine. The days of getting charged with a felony offense for possession of marijuana would essentially be over.
Thus, decriminalizing the use of this controlled substance unless an individual possessed more than the approved amount of one ounce.
Providing marijuana to anyone under the legal age of 21 would still carry the same offense as contributing to the delinquency of a minor. Any minor or person under the age of 21 who uses marijuana (illegally) would still be breaking the law. They would face the same legal penalties that are currently in place in Arizona.
All marijuana and marijuana products including edible products would levy a 15 percent tax which would be used for public education.
The breakdown of how the taxes would be: 40 percent to fund education related expenses including construction and teacher salaries, another 40 percent would provide funding for full-day kindergarten education, and the remaining 20 percent of taxes would be used to provide educational campaigns regarding the relative harms of alcohol, marijuana, and other controlled substances. These educational programs would be provided by the Department of Public Health.
According to the county recorders website this is a citizen initiated proposition, so in order for this to have been approved to make it on the ballot 177,258 signatures out of the 150,642 required signatures were gathered on a petition. That is a significant amount of citizen supporters that wanted this measure to make it on the ballot. Not every is in favor of this proposition.
Voters who are not in favor of the measure think it may cause crime rates to go up and they think Marijuana is a “gateway” drug for the youth population. Many feel that by making it legal for adults to get high is setting an example to minors that smoking weed is okay.
On the flip side, many citizens feel that voting yes on Prop 205 would be a great way for Arizona to generate much needed money for the education system. Some supporters also suggest that decriminalizing the use of Marijuana would also cut down on the amount of incarcerations in our over filled jail systems. The Marijuana Policy Project is the main support organization behind this initiative and they say Arizona should model Colorado state law, where recreational marijuana use is now legal.
In an informal campus poll among students, the results show that 50 percent of the 70 students questioned are in support of the measure passing. The second largest portion of poll participants (22.9 percent) answered that they were not going to vote at all. An interesting fact about the informal campus poll was that over 70 percent of total students who were asked their opinions were completely unaware what the measure was until it was explained to them.
Student poll shows support for Proposition 205
If you are interested in more information on this proposition and other measures on the ballot you can visit http://apps.azsos.gov/election/2016/General/home.htm. There are still a couple weeks to research the measures before election day which is Nov. 8. Either way it goes it is still illegal to get high on smoke until they tally up the votes.