Is Prop 205 Right for Arizona? 

Some locals are not okay with treating a joint like a bottle of gin

Prop 205, which would decriminalize the use of marijuana for adults over 21, is a complex proposal.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol officially met the signature requirement to be included on the November ballot. However, the initiative could be blocked by a pending court case, which had its first hearing last Friday.

The suit was filed by Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, which would more adequately be named Arizonan's for Anti-Drug Policy or, as their website says, "Arizonans Against Recreational Marijuana."

Two county attorneys have also jumped on lawsuit—Sheila Polk of Yavapai (who is also vice chair of ARDP) and Bill Montgomery from Maricopa County—as has the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.

The plaintiffs claim that the initiative's 100-word petition summary did not encapsulate the main provisions of the measure, which they also claim are exceedingly complex.

However, attorney Roy Herrera, who represents the initiative's supporters, says that the judge doesn't have the authority to decide that the measure's language is too complex.

"Ultimately, it's up to voters to decide whether the initiative is too confusing, whether it is overreaching or whether it is too complex," he said.

Though the lawsuit is a thinly-veiled attempt to keep the initiative from reaching the ballot based on conservative social ideology, Prop 205's complexity may just be what keeps it from passing even if it makes it into the hands of voters.

While legalization is an attractive possibility to many, critics say there is something fishy about this initiative.

For starters, this initiative essentially gives favorable treatment to existing medical marijuana dispensaries with no guaranteed licensing for others that want to get into the business.

It also gives quite a bit of power to cities and counties to determine their own policies regarding recreational marijuana sale, production and use.

Since the DEA recently upheld marijuana's status as a Schedule I drug, users may still be subject to felony charges for the very acts this initiative should be legalizing.

But the municipalities aren't the ones with all the control. The initiative would also create a new Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control that would be responsible for the regulation of marijuana operations in Arizona.

Some supporters of recreational legalization take issue with the powers of this new department.

Authority currently held by the Department of Health Services would be transferred to the new department, which would receive fees for licensing and renewals from marijuana retailers, manufacturers, distributors and testing facilities.

The governor would be responsible for appointing a director and seven members of a commission to run the department, three of whom would have interests in the marijuana industry. Needless to say, those three members will likely support regulations in their express interest.


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