Since passing Proposition 207, Arizona has joined the likes of Virginia, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and others to legalize marijuana use in one way or another. While the legalization of marijuana has been met with complicated feelings. Let’s take a look at how legalization is developing across the state.
Arizona Counties Hash it Out
While the glitz and glam of legalization is hard to ignore, newbie states like Arizona have to keep the big picture in mind. There are two very important limitations to weed possession and use: the federal government and Arizona counties.
Many supporters of marijuana see the legalization of weed as a positive sign that it will eventually be legalized at the national level. However, the federal government remains firm in its stance against legalization.
County officials also have a say in how legalization laws play out in their communities. The Gilbert Town Council met in January of 2021 to discuss new building and fire code amendments related to safety issues with residential marijuana growth. Gilbert has been staunchly against legalization and made a point to resist welcoming weed with open arms.
The Council voted 6-1 to approve code amendments that would include identifying safety hazards and observance of commercial codes for the growth and extraction of marijuana. Gilbert isn’t the only town in AZ to crack down on cannabis production, but they are the most forthcoming about their reservations.
Since legalization, there’s been a rush to issue business licenses for dispensaries to meet the high demand from cannabis consumers. The Arizona Health Services Department has approved over 99 licenses.
Counties with recreational licenses from the state include:
- La Paz
- Santa Cruz
Since legalization for recreational and medicinal use, marijuana dispensaries have been raking in the green. Medical marijuana sales generated over $1.3 million, with recreation sales hitting well over $225,000 from mid-February to march. The total taxes for the fiscal year so far are more than $2 million.
These numbers are slightly lower than expected, but many growers and sellers believe revenue will pick up as they hit their stride and consumers become more comfortable buying. One of the challenges businesses are facing is keeping track of new tax forms and regulations.
The Arizona government still plans to put the marijuana millions back into the state for highway infrastructure, community colleges, police and fire departments, and education.
Feeling High and Buying Time
The high of increased revenue is fine for now, but it will take a while yet to get used to legalization. Many dispensaries are taking things slow to ensure that they are following proper protocol. As they become more comfortable with recreational sales, the overall revenue is expected to increase.
It’s also important to note that legalization didn’t happen overnight. Arizona has a long conservative history, and for decades, lawmakers have resisted caving in on cannabis. Demographic shifts and recent political upsets have changed the landscape for lawmakers.
Another thing to keep in mind is that it will take time to dismiss marijuana possession cases. One of the primary motivations for legalization is criminal justice reform; to dismiss pointless possession cases that contribute to prison overcrowding. According to a 2016 statistic, over 15,000 people were in prison for marijuana possession. Dismissing these charges will take a very long time, and many prisoners may not be released for some time.
Zickerman Law Office, PLLC will continue to follow marijuana legalization in Arizona. If you need legal help regarding criminal charges for cannabis, contact our firm today.