AZ: Recreational Marijuana Heads To Ballot – Future In Sun Cities Area?

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Recreational marijuana will be on the ballot in November.

The Arizona Supreme Court on Aug. 31 rejected arguments of the opposing side of Proposition 205, which claimed the summary of the initiative and the text itself was too flawed to send to the ballot.

Chief Justice Scott Bales said Arizona law only requires ballot measures be in “substantial compliance” with legal requirements. And he said Proposition 205 fits within that definition.

If the measure passes, adults 21 and older would be allowed to carry up to one ounce of marijuana and consume it privately. They could also cultivate up to six marijuana plants in an enclosed space and possess the marijuana produced. Up to 12 plants would be allowed in a single residence.

While Wednesday’s ruling clears the way for a vote, it may not end the legal problems for the measure.

Challengers point out a constitutional provision requires any new program created by voters to have its own new source of revenues. While the initiative will create a 15 percent tax on sales of the drug to fund enforcement, it will have to borrow money initially from a separate pre-existing account that regulates medical marijuana.

The justices, however, sidestepped that issue, saying it is not legally “ripe” to argue. But Bales told challengers they can raise those objections if the measure is approved in November.

The Recreation Centers of Sun City West board is already researching how this would affect the community, and what flexibility it would have in regulating locally since RCSCW facilities are considered private property.

“To my knowledge, the Board has not received any concerns about this from residents; staff has not heard anything either,” RCSCW General Services Officer Katy O’Grady said. “People seem very quiet on this issue – maybe because it was only just certified by the Arizona secretary of state. I’m sure we’ll hear more about it between now and November.”

Recreation Centers of Sun City Communications and Marketing Coordinator Joelyn Higgins said “it is unknow what the future may hold,” and referred to the RCSC’s Corporate Bylaws on smoking:

“Smoking shall be prohibited and banned inside all buildings of the Recreation Centers of Sun City, Inc. and also throughout and around RCSC facilities and per Federal and Arizona State law. Electronic cigarettes are not permitted within and on RCSC facilities except in designated smoking areas.”

While the path to legalization widens, opposition still stands.

Sun City resident Scott Root said he has an issue with people getting “high” and potentially driving the streets as well as seniors replacing prescribed medication for medicinal marijuana.

“Most of our respected elderly residents already have diminished reflexes,” he said. “Daily we see stop signs run, 50-plus mph on 30 mph streets and confused drivers stopped in the middle of the road. Is it really smart to take seniors off drugs that make them too drowsy to drive and let them drive stoned instead?”

However, Shauna Williams with White Mountain Health Center said residents should always take their medication in their own homes or at another private property. Plus, they cannot consume marijuana on the center’s premises, like at any other pharmacy.

Mr. Root also said the medical marijuana business has no place outside of hospitals anywhere in the country.
There is a fine line between medicinal and recreational marijuana, however, according to WMHC President Butch Williams.

“This is a ‘miracle medicine’ and we’ve seen it through and through in our patients in what they’ve been able to overcome,” Mr. Williams said. “We are really going to play a role in trying to remain focused on medical marijuana.”

In that regard, he said he hopes recreational marijuana – if passed – does not affect the medicinal side. One of the reasons White Mountain came to Sun City in 2015 was to focus on the drug as a medicine, not like a cigarette.

“We do understand the progression of legalization and what that can do for recreational purpose and helping the plant not be something you can get thrown in jail for,” he said. “It (marijuana) should be looked at as a plant that has medicinal value first. Instead of a plant that gets you high.”

Recreational marijuana should not be too much of a problem in Sun City and surrounding senior communities, according to Dustin Klein, owner of Sun Valley MMJ Certification Clinic, which has three Valley locations, including one in Surprise. Mr. Klein said of the four states that have legalized recreational marijuana, Colorado has seen its medical users increase about 1 percent each month since 2013.

“Patients continue to go through the process,” he said. “The elderly want to be treated as a patient and not like they’re just trying to get high.”

One of the reasons residents may opt to stick with medicinal marijuana – as opposed to dumping it for recreational uses – are the legal protections of having a medical marijuana registry identification card from the Arizona Department of Health Services.

Under the Arizona Medical Marijuana Act, anyone who follows the requirements cannot be penalized for the medical use of marijuana. The act prohibits certain discriminatory practices, including:

“A school or landlord can’t refuse to enroll or lease to a qualifying patient unless failing to do so would cause the school or landlord to lose benefits under federal law;

An employer can’t discriminate against a qualifying patient in hiring, terminating, or imposing employment conditions unless failing to do so would cause the employer to lose benefits under federal law; and
An employer can’t penalize a qualifying patient for a positive drug test for marijuana, unless the patient used, possessed, or was impaired by marijuana on the employment premises or during hours of employment.”

Medical plants usually receive more care as opposed to recreational ones, which Mr. Klein said is another reason medicinal users in legal states have refrained from recreational usage.

“I definitely expect the same thing to happen in Arizona,” he said.

News Moderator: Katelyn Baker
Full Article: Recreational Marijuana Heads To Ballot – Future In Sun Cities Area?
Author: Chris Caraveo
Contact: (623) 977-8351
Photo Credit: Brennan Linsley
Website: Your West Valley