Adult-use cannabis legalization in AZ appears headed for November ballot

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Based on signatures submitted to the state this week, an industry-backed initiative to legalize a commercial recreational marijuana market in Arizona appears likely to get on the November ballot.

The group, Smart and Safe Arizona, submitted 420,000 signatures with the Arizona Secretary of State, according to alt-weekly Phoenix New Times.

The signatures still must be verified, but the group has a large cushion: 237,645 valid signatures are required to make the ballot.

There is concern that the initiative, which limits the number of licenses per county, would give priority to existing medical cannabis operators and favor multistate operators.

But Smart and Safe did add 26 social equity licenses to the initiative language.

The initiative calls for a 16% retail sales tax on marijuana products.

Voters rejected an adult-use legalization measure in 2016 by a slim margin, but proponents have said they believe support has increased sufficiently since then for the measure to pass.

A poll published last December found that 51% of likely voters approved legalization, and 42% opposed.

Some stiff opposition remains, especially from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

In a June 25 news release, Chamber President Glenn Hamer declared that “more harm than good” would result from legalization.

He claimed that legalization would hurt the state’s workforce-development efforts by increasing workplace accidents and lowering productivity.