What You Should Know About Arizona's Prop 207
Arizona Prop 207 brought about huge changes for the marijuana industry in the Grand Canyon State, and a few years on, the industry continues to grow. Understanding the main points that are covered by this proposition is essential for adult marijuana consumers, medical marijuana patients, and prospective business owners in the budding Arizona cannabis industry.
What Is Arizona Prop 207?
Proposition 207 was an Arizona-based ballot initiative to legalize the possession and consumption of marijuana by adults aged 21 and above. The initiative passed on 3 November 2020, with 60% of the vote, after a similar voter's initiative—Proposition 205—was overturned with a 51.3% "no" vote in 2016.
The marijuana legalization initiative that passed was initially entitled "Proposition 207" and is now referred to as the Smart and Safe Act, after the name of the collective that lobbied for legalization. The adult-use marijuana program in AZ runs parallel to the medical marijuana program, which was established with Proposition 203 in 2010.
Key Features of Proposition 207
The provisions of the Smart and Safe Arizona Act cover everything from possession limits to home-growing, licenses, taxes, and the expungement of criminal records. The specific provisions of this act vary from those of other states due to the fact that marijuana (cannabis with more than 0.3% THC) is still officially legal at the federal level and each state sets its own internal regulations.
Possession, Consumption, and Transportation of Marijuana
As per Proposition 207, adults aged 21 and above in Arizona may purchase, possess, and transport up to one ounce of marijuana, of which no more than five grams can be marijuana concentrate. They can also grow up to six marijuana plants at their primary residence in a place that is securely locked and hidden from public view. Residences where two or more adults aged 21 and above reside at the same time may grow a maximum of 12 marijuana plants.
Under the Medical Marijuana Act, patients with an AZ qualifying condition can purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. In addition, patients can apply to cultivate up to 12 marijuana plants if their primary residence is more than 25 miles from the nearest dispensary. To qualify for an MMJ card, eligible patients need to book an in-office or MMJ telemedicine appointment and pay an application fee.
Where Marijuana Can Be Consumed
Proposition 207 bans the consumption of marijuana in public spaces, open spaces, and anywhere that smoking tobacco or e-cigarettes is banned. Consumers are also banned from driving a motor vehicle, boat, or plane while "impaired to the slightest degree" by marijuana.
Regulation and Oversight of the Adult Recreational Program
Proposition 207 assigned the responsibility for regulating the adult-use marijuana program to the Arizona Department of Health Services. This regulatory power extends from the production and processing of marijuana to the licensing of marijuana establishments.
Licenses for Marijuana Establishments
Under Proposition 207, the AZDHS would accept early applications for marijuana establishment licenses from January 19 through March 9, 2021. Nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries could apply for a dual license to sell both nonprofit medical marijuana and for-profit recreational marijuana. Prospective owners of new marijuana establishments could apply for a license:
If there were fewer than two nonprofit medical marijuana dispensaries in their county
At a rate of no more than one dispensary per 10 pharmacies in the state
The proposition also established the Social Equity Ownership Program to promote the ownership of dispensaries by individuals from communities that had been disproportionately affected by the previous marijuana laws.
Taxation of Marijuana Sales
Recreational marijuana sales in Arizona are subject to the local sales tax as well as a statewide 16% excise tax. Medical marijuana sales are subject to sales taxes but are exempt from the excise tax.
The tax revenue collected from the 16% excise tax goes toward:
Enforcing the Smart and Safe Arizona Act
Community college districts
Public health services
Criminal justice programs
Local Government Regulation of Marijuana
Under Proposition 207, municipalities and counties would have the power to regulate recreational marijuana licenses and zoning and to ban new recreational marijuana facilities and marijuana testing facilities. Several towns enacted such bans soon after Proposition 207 was passed, including Gilbert, Mesa, Scottsdale, Goodyear, and Surprise.
Home Delivery of Marijuana
Under the Medical Marijuana Act of 2010, medical marijuana patients could have cannabis products delivered to their homes, unless cannabis delivery was banned or restricted by municipal laws. While Prop 207 didn't establish recreational cannabis deliveries immediately, it scheduled the implementation of a recreational home delivery program for sometime between January 2023 and January 2025.
Expungement of Marijuana-Related Criminal Records
From July 12, 2021, Arizona residents would be able to fill out a petition to the Arizona Supreme Court to have their criminal record expunged of certain marijuana-related convictions, sentences, and fines. The convictions listed in statute A.R.S. 36-2862 include:
Possessing, consuming, or transporting not more than two and one-half ounces of marijuana, of which no more than twelve and one-half grams are in the form of marijuana concentrate
Possessing, cultivating, processing, or transporting up to six marijuana plants at their primary residence for personal use
Possessing, using, or transporting paraphernalia related to the cultivation, manufacture, processing, or consumption of marijuana
Legal Penalties for Violating the Provisions of the Initiative
Looking ahead to the time that Arizona Prop 207 would take effect, the 2020 ballot initiative established new legal penalties for marijuana-related violations, including:
Possessing more than the legal limit of marijuana or marijuana concentrate
Growing marijuana plants in public view or in an unsecured location
Smoking marijuana in a public place or open space
For persons under 21 years of age, possessing, consuming, or transporting marijuana
For persons under 21 years of age, misrepresenting their age to obtain marijuana
For persons under 21 years of age, soliciting that another person purchase marijuana on their behalf
Interesting Facts about Proposition 207
Two of Arizona's neighbors legalized marijuana in 2016 when voter initiative 205 failed: Colorado and Nevada. Maine and Massachusetts also legalized MJ in 2016.
In 2020, three other states also legalized adult recreational marijuana through a ballot initiative: Montana, New Jersey, and South Dakota.
The first recreational marijuana sales in Arizona began on January 22, 2021, just over two months after the ballot initiative was passed. Arizona is currently the fastest state in U.S. history to implement its adult recreational marijuana program after voting.
Recreational and Medical Marijuana Offer a Wide Range of Options to Residents of AZ
The Medical Marijuana Act of 2010 made therapeutic cannabis products available to the people who needed them most. With the passing of Proposition 207 ten years later, all adults aged 21 and above gained access to high-quality, lab-tested flower, extracts, edibles, and cannabis-infused topical products.
While any adult can freely purchase marijuana in Arizona, MMJ cardholders still have advantages when it comes to taxation, purchase and possession limits, and home delivery (until recreational delivery is implemented). If you have an AZ qualifying condition, understanding why you should still get a medical marijuana card now that Arizona legalized marijuana can help you make an informed choice.