• November 27, 2020

Lucky 13: Arizona Becomes Latest to Legalize Marijuana

 Lucky 13: Arizona Becomes Latest to Legalize Marijuana

Original art by Lizzy Oakley Photography

Arizona just became the 13th state to legalize recreational marijuana, a shift from 2016 when the state swatted down an identical ballot initiative that sought to allow adults to possess, use, and grow marijuana.

The state’s vote to allow adult-use recreational marijuana fits a larger trend out west, with every coastal state — California, Oregon, and Washington — having been leaders in normalizing the substance. And a few inland states — Colorado and Nevada — already approved marijuana legalization a few years ago.  

But in Arizona, amid rapid population growth, particularly in Maricopa County, changes seem afoot. The state looks to be on the cusp of voting for a Democrat for president for the first time since 1996 and just the second time since 1952. 

After New Jersey voters beat them by a couple hours, Arizona is now the 13th state to legalize marijuana, not including Washington, DC, and US territories Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands, where cannabis is also legal.

The measure allows Arizona residents who are aged 21 years old and older to grow up to six plants in their residences. It also places a 16 percent tax on marijuana sales above existing taxes and divides the revenue between community colleges, law enforcement, fire officials and highways. The ballot measure also creates a fund to support grant programs aimed at public health and criminal justice reform, like helping people who have been negatively affected by the war on ‘drugs’ get involved in the burgeoning new industry while also expunging their records.

People with cannabis charges on their records can also petition to expunge that blot on their criminal record starting in July 2021.

With 16 percent of the vote in, the Associated Press predicted the proposition’s passage, as it was up with about 60 percent of the vote, amid a larger blue shift in the state. In 2016, the initiative failed with more than 51 percent of voters opposing legalization.

Daniel Newhauser

Daniel Newhauser

Daniel Newhauser is a freelance journalist based in Washington, D.C. His work has appeared in the Atlantic, Roll Call, VICE, National Journal, Politico and several other publications. He can be found on Twitter @DNewhauser

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