PHOENIX (AP) — Legal gross sales of leisure marijuana in Arizona begun on Friday, a as soon as-unthinkable phase in the former conservative stronghold that joins 14 other states that have broadly legalized pot.
The point out Well being Solutions Department on Friday announced it experienced authorised 86 licenses in 9 of the state’s 15 counties less than provisions of the cannabis legalization evaluate passed by voters in November. Most of the licenses went to existing health-related cannabis dispensaries that can start off advertising pot suitable absent.
“It’s an interesting action for individuals that want to participate in that software,” mentioned Dr. Cara Christ, Arizona’s point out wellness director, on Friday.
Less than the terms of Proposition 207, persons 21 and older can improve their possess crops and lawfully have up to an ounce (28 grams) of marijuana or a scaled-down quantity of “concentrates” this sort of as cannabis. Possession of amongst 1 ounce and 2.5 ounces (70 grams) is a petty offense carrying a optimum $300 high-quality.
The march toward decriminalization in the Sun Belt state was prolonged. Acceptance of the legalization measure came 4 several years after Arizona voters narrowly defeated a identical proposal, while healthcare marijuana has been lawful in the condition considering the fact that 2010.
The initiative faced stiff opposition from Republican Gov. Doug Ducey and GOP leaders in the condition Legislature, but 60% of the state’s voters in the November election approved it.
The vote on cannabis mirrored larger sized developments at perform for the duration of the historic election that noticed Democrat Joe Biden flip the longtime Republican state the place political giants contain five-phrase conservative senator Barry Goldwater and the late GOP Sen. John McCain.
Changing demographics, including a speedy-growing Latino populace and a flood of new inhabitants, have built the condition friendlier to Democrats.
The leisure pot evaluate was backed by advocates for the lawful cannabis field and prison justice reform advocates who argued that the state’s harsh marijuana legislation were out of action with the nation. Arizona was the only point out in the nation that nevertheless allowed a felony charge for initially-time possession of small amounts of cannabis, whilst most cases were being prosecuted as decreased-degree misdemeanors.
The extensive the vast majority of the licenses issued Friday had been in Maricopa County, the state’s major county that’s house to Phoenix and its suburbs. Other counties with dispensaries now allowed to provide leisure pot are Cochise, Coconino, Gila, Pima, Pinal, Yavapai and Yuma counties.
Voters in New Jersey, South Dakota and Montana also approved building possession of leisure cannabis authorized very last November.
Arizona prosecutors dropped countless numbers of marijuana possession situations right after the measure was authorized. Possession in the state technically turned legal when the election final results were being licensed on Nov. 30 but there was no approved way to buy it devoid of a professional medical marijuana card.
Voters in November dealt a further blow to Republicans in handle of the state’s electricity levers when they accredited a new tax on higher earners to raise schooling funding, a transfer that arrived following decades of GOP tax cuts and the underfunding of public faculties.