Four years after narrow loss, Arizona is 13th state to legalize recreational cannabis

Get insights on state ballot initiatives and all things Election 2020 for cannabis at MJBizCon. On Wednesday, our Election Week panel will discuss the results.

The narrow loss of 2016 has been erased.

Arizona voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved adult-use cannabis legalization, making the state the 13th to legalize the cultivation and sale of recreational marijuana.

The outcome also represents the second adult-use electoral victory for cannabis proponents on Election Day, following an earlier win in New Jersey.

The victory also puts Arizona on pace to create one of the biggest new marijuana markets in the country.

The Arizona recreational market could generate as much as $375 million-$400 million in its first year and $700 million-$760 million by 2024, according to projections by Marijuana Business Daily.

As of 11 p.m. ET, Proposition 207 – to legalize recreational marijuana – was winning with 60% of the vote, and cannabis advocates declared victory as The New York Times called the race.

The Marijuana Policy Project hailed the win in a statement, saying “Arizona voters have spoken,” and adding that the win lends further momentum to the push for federal legalization.

“We are poised for major marijuana reform federally. Regardless of who controls the White House, the House or the Senate, Americans are ready for legal marijuana,” MPP Executive Director Steve Hawkins said in a statement.

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) also hailed the result and predicted it will create jobs and more tax revenue for Arizona.

“This result once again shows that marijuana legalization is not exclusively a ‘blue’ state issue but an issue that is supported by a majority of all Americans – regardless of party politics,” NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri said in a statement.

The win is a turnaround from 2016, when Arizona was the only one of nine statewide marijuana ballot initiatives to fail. Legalization that year was turned down by voters by a slim 2% margin, compared with this year’s apparent 20-point win.

The initiative, poised for quick implementation, gives most of the market to the existing 130 medical marijuana operators along with 26 new social equity licensees. The existing MMJ businesses could begin adult-use sales as soon as late January.

John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]

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