With the November election right around the corner, Arizonans have some substantial decisions to make. One of those decisions has to do with the marijuana controversy in the Grand Canyon state, titled Prop 205. To put it simply, to vote yes on this proposition is to legalize marijuana in the state of Arizona, and to vote no will keep the recreational use illegal.
As an outsider who does not smoke weed illegally or carry a medical marijuana card, I will be content with either decision voted on by the people. Even though I don’t partake, I have plenty of friends who possess medical marijuana cards for health reasons though… and I thought they were going to be ecstatic to legalize pot. However, I was dead wrong. Although it would become legal, the new laws would limit the amount carried on a person to 1 ounce, it would add on a high tax amount per dollar, and would make it difficult for small marijuana business owners to thrive in the market.
Jonathan Leeder, a weed enthusiasts from Tempe, believes in the healing power of the green herb. However, he does not feel Prop 205 is right for Arizona.
“Well I think ultimately the state of Arizona will benefit simply because they don’t have to lift a finger to collect taxes. What they do with that tax money is well intentioned but I don’t trust the department of marijuana licenses and control,” he said. “The Arizona department of health currently has authority over medical marijuana, and I think they’re doing a great job so far. Under their rules I have a more realistic chance of starting a business, which would be for medical patients and not for recreational use. But to have that opportunity stripped from me for a quasi legalization is beyond stupid.
Leeder later reiterated his opinion that the marijuana commission would be partisan.
“I find the structure of the marijuana commission unbalanced,” he said. “It’s basically letting the ones who make the money from the industry make the rules too, which sounds nice but it’s a seven member commission. And out of that seven, three may be involved in the industry, so it’s a very small representation. I don’t trust them to make the appropriate regulations for the industry to thrive.”
Aspiring to be an entrepreneur in the medical marijuana world, Leeder fears the new legalization will boot him and other small business owners out of the market.
“It would also make small businesses non-existent. The initial cost for retail license is $20,000. That drops to $6,600 a year after. For manufacturers the fee is $15,000 and that drops to $5,000. So for someone like me who’s trying to start a business I’m gonna have an extremely difficult time competing with larger businesses who already have first dibs on licensing.”
These concerns are being expressed by many different individuals and parties in the weed community. An article on foxnews.com discusses similar worries between marijuana activists, saying the new regulations are not worth the trouble.
“Advocates for recreational marijuana also fear the latest legalization measures come with so many restrictions that pot smokers might be better off, for now, within the existing medical-marijuana system.”
For now, the medical marijuana enthusiasts believe they are better off with their license, and with recreational weed remaining illegal.
“Most marijuana offenses would still be felonies and only being allowed to possess an ounce is a joke,” said Leeder. It’s only good for the state. Less people will go to jail but it still treats marijuana as a felony.”