As we all do our best to stay smart, stay safe and stay home to wait for summer to come and the covid to go, it’s probably time for a quick review of the Smart and Safe Arizona legalization initiative. With more than 320,000 signatures collected before suspending public activities in early March, The Smart and Safe Arizona Act is virtually assured a spot on the November ballot.
The campaign is currently anticipating resuming public activities by June, providing public health conditions have improved. In the meantime, here is a recap of the highlights.
- Adults Can Possess and Transport One Ounce at a Time—This means if you are over 21, possessing 1 oz or less of cannabis in public, even in a car, is no longer cause for potential arrest. Under 21 is a petty offense. For adults, from one ounce up to 2.5 oz is a petty offense. Smoking in public is still prohibited. Unlicensed sales are still a felony.
- Homegrow w Protected Harvest —6 plants per person, 12 per household. You can keep your harvest on the premises. Crop must be grown in an enclosed, locked, not publicly visible facility that is not accessible to minors.
- “Odor of Marijuana” is No Longer Probable Cause–Raw or burnt, the smell of cannabis will no longer be “just cause” to be searched, detained, even questioned. It’s NOT a crime to possess cannabis.
- Key Language from Section, 36-2852 (the consumer rights section)– Cannabis use cannot be used to justify the: “IMPOSITION OF PENALTIES OF ANY KIND UNDER THE LAWS OF THIS STATE OR ANY LOCALITY, OR FOR ABROGATING OR LIMITING ANY RIGHT OR PRIVILEGE CONFERRED OR PROTECTED BY THE LAWS OF THIS STATE OR ANY LOCALITY.” This means–
- Dependency Court–You cannot have your rights to your kids abrogated or limited for possessing cannabis.
- Professional Licenses—You cannot have your professional state licenses revoked for cannabis unless it is a federally enforced position.
- DUI “to the Slightest Degree” –Though cannabis has proven to not be nearly as impairing as suggested, nobody wants impaired drivers on our roads. Impaired driving is just cause for a DUI, mere possession in a vehicle or the presence of metabolites in one’s system is not.
- Cannabis Paraphernalia—legal. Period.
- Landlord and Employer Protections—Of course, landlords and bosses will still get to decide what you can do on their property or at their businesses.
- Existing Medical Market to Expand to Adult Use–Arizona’s 130 licensed dispensaries may apply to sell cannabis to the adult use market from the same facility except with a higher adult-use tax and some packaging restrictions. In addition, 26 new “social equity” licenses will be added to expand legal access and business opportunity. Additional licenses can be added by the state legislature as needed.
- Patients’ Rights Protected—Language works to protect the existing MMJ program. Patients will enjoy higher possession limits, larger edibles dosages and pay lower taxes. Most importantly, SASA ends the 25-mile rule that restricts urban patient cultivation. Expect many patients to keep their medical cards.
- Tested Products—All cannabis products will be tested.
- Expungement—if you’ve ever been arrested in Arizona and have charges for less than 2.5 oz, six or fewer plants or for paraphernalia, you can get those charges removed from your record, the record sealed and inadmissible in future cases. Nonprofit organizations can receive grants to provide outreach and legal assistance to facilitate this program.
- Taxes—are set at 16%. If the federal government decides to end its prohibition and begin a federal tax on state sales of cannabis the combined tax cannot exceed 30%. The tax revenue is expected to exceed $300 million per year on adult use sales and licensing. This revenue is targeted to support community colleges, public health and safety, ADOT for rural highways and funding for the newly created expungement and social equity programs
- Social Equity— 80 yrs of a monstrously destructive policy like cannabis prohibition requires restorative justice. Expungement is just one aspect of social justice reforms in this initiative, which also earmarks funds for redeveloping over-policed communities and retraining law enforcement to pay attention to crimes and not cannabis.
Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.