In the last two years, recreational marijuana laws have made tremendous progress. Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Alaska and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational use of marijuana. Now the country is looking forward to 2016 for a new group of potential states to legalize recreational marijuana. One of these states is Arizona.
Recreational Marijuana Bills in Arizona
Arizona has been attempting to get a recreational marijuana law on a ballot for over a year. Failing to get a law on the 2014 ballot, there is a new push for 2016. With conservatives making up a major portion of the legislature, coalitions and individual representatives have become the driving force of a bill to make recreational marijuana legal. One of the reasons Arizona would be a huge "get" if a recreational marijuana bill passes is that it would send a message to other conservative states about the changing tide of pot law.
45% of Arizona Citizens Support Recreational Marijuana
The legislature process for such a bill has been slow, and most conservatives have dragged their feet when it comes to recreational use. Two bills have been authored to decriminalize marijuana possession and legalize taxed recreational marijuana, but neither have even been considered by a law-making body. It is these failures that generated a plan to collect signatures to get a more serious decision to voters. A recent poll by the Morrison Institute found that a public vote might be successful, as 45 percent of Arizona citizens support a recreational marijuana law for those 18 and older.
Action from Coalitions
Coalitions have been generating the continuous, underlying energy driving Arizona toward recreational legalization. Those groups, such as the Marijuana Policy Project, that helped to legalize medical marijuana in Arizona are growing in strength and numbers. Part of the optimism surrounding a 2016 bill results from the recreational marijuana laws passed in the other states and the year-long results from Colorado. Many states like Arizona are looking at Colorado and seeing the positive economic possibilities. Conservative governments, however, are having a harder time getting past the negative press and harsh schedule 1 drug rating. A passing Arizona bill could be the domino that moves other conservative states to change how they think about legalization.
2016 seems to be the year we will find out whether the fight for regulated recreational use will be a quick, successful victory or a slow crawl to the inevitable. Arizona should be on your watch list to judge the progression.