Arizona Attorney General and Marijuana in Arizona
Arizona has undergone plenty of changes when it comes to legal marijuana. Starting with the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act in 2010, there has been a gradual shift in attitudes towards legalization across the board. However, exactly how that will happen, or if it ever will, has yet to be decided.
Attorney General Mark Brnovich has said that he would rather state lawmakers debate and enact a recreational marijuana program rather than let the voters decide when they go to the ballot box. Both Brnovich and Gov. Ducey have said they are concerned about the “unchangeable nature of passing laws at the ballot box.”
Attorney General Brnovich says that the issues at stake are too complex to be left to the voters. “Generally speaking, as a matter of public policy, the public policy makers, i.e., the Legislature, should step up and address the issues so the voters don’t have to do it via the initiative process.”
However, the group that is helping to craft the ballot initiative for next year’s elections says that “I think this is more work than the Legislature has the capacity to tackle.”
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry has also said they would rather the Legislature handle the issue. They claim they want to avoid any unintended consequences through the ballot measures.
What are they worried about?
Arizona voters are seemingly eager to take up this issue. Polls have shown that there has been a political shift with the issue. One poll released by OH Predictive Insights shows that 52% of likely voters approve legalizing marijuana while 41% would oppose it. This is a change from just a few years ago when voters rejected similar measures at the ballot box during the 2016 election but a margin of 51% to 48%.
If this measure makes it to the ballot in 2020, there is a good chance recreational marijuana use would become legal. Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk says she will oppose legalizing marijuana, regardless of who takes up the measure.
“Once a state starts down the path of legalization, there is no turning back,” Polk says. “Good public policy should discourage, not encourage, drug use.”
Lawmakers and prosecutors are particularly worried because voter approved laws are notoriously hard to change. In 2012, lawmakers tried to alter the 2010 AMMA to keep students from possessing drugs on campus. The Arizona Supreme Court rejected the efforts because the justices said that was not what voters approved. They said the Legislature had no authority to change it.
“I don’t think any state ever got stronger by being stoned,” says Gov. Ducey.
Ultimately, it looks like the voters will have the final say, but we want you to know that possession of any marijuana outside of AMMA carry laws will result in a felony charge. Anyone charged with possession of marijuana in this state (less than two pounds) will face a Class Six Felony charge with the possibility of 6 months to 1.5 years in jail.
- A person carrying under AMMA must have an MMJ card and can carry no more than 2.5 ounces of the drug.
What you can do moving forward
If you or someone you love is facing marijuana possession charges, or charges related to other drugs, please seek assistance from an Arizona criminal defense attorney now. The consequences of a guilty verdict are far-reaching. You are not only facing prison time and fines – you are also facing the possibility of a permanent criminal record. Let your attorney work to investigate your case in order to get your charges reduced or dismissed.