On Election Day, Arizonans were to decide on Proposition 207. If approved, it would make so recreational marijuana possession legal for adults in 2021.
If passed, the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, also known as Proposition 207, is projected to bring in over $200 million to local governments through a 16% excise tax that will be distributed to police and fire departments, community colleges and state infrastructure, according to azleg.gov.
If the ballot initiative passes, the cannabis industry could see the expansion of existing markets and the opening of new ones in 2021. Medical marijuana dispensaries would be able to apply for licenses to sell recreational marijuana.
“We anticipate our business will double pretty much immediately,” said Ryan Hurley of Sun City’s Sol Flower Medical Marijuana Dispensary. “We’re hiring now in anticipation of this passing.”
Steve White, founder and CEO of Tempe-bases Harvest Health & Recreation, said he expects to experience a similar hiring expansion into the West Valley. Harvest HOC of Avondale Dispensary is at 3828 S. Vermeersch Road.
“Harvest currently has over 1,000 employees with about 600 employees located in Arizona. If Prop 207 passes, we will need to add employees in cultivation and manufacturing, retail and corporate to help service additional demand and future growth,” White said via email.
Sara Presler of Debbie’s Dispensary in Peoria said the windfall from cannabis sales could help pay for vital behavioral health needs, keep the most vulnerable people out of the criminal justice system and increase much-needed access to resources and services.
“The proposition will create millions of dollars annually for the Department of Health Services and projects related to addiction, prevention, substance abuse treatment, suicide prevention, mental health programs,” Presler said.
“There will be $300 million projected annually to fund community colleges, public safety and public health, roads and highways. So we’re not just talking about cannabis business jobs. We’re talking about improving the general welfare of Arizona,” she added.
But, according to an Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the West Valley has plenty of reasons to oppose Proposition 207.
“Proposition 207 caps the marijuana tax at 16%. Arizona’s lawmakers will have to figure out how to battle the negative consequences of recreational marijuana with no hope of taxing those who are making millions,” said Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry President and CEO Glenn Hamer.
Additionally, Hamer wrote, “If it passes, Proposition 207 permanently locks Arizona into this social experiment at the expense of our kids, our roads and our economy. The industry gets rich while Arizonans suffer the consequences.”
Those in the marijuana industry disagree with that view.
Hurley said legalized marijuana is a market that will change as consumer preferences evolve as neighboring states legalize or consider changing their cannabis policy.
“I think prohibition of cannabis has proven to be a drastic failure of a policy. And there’s a number of states that have taken a different approach and that approach is working,” Hurley said.
“The economic benefits, the tax benefits, those things to me, are all icing on the cake.”
Results of the Nov. 3 vote were not available at publication time.