Proposition 205, the “tax and regulate like alcohol” marijuana legalization measure which will be on the November 8 ballot, has run into serious trouble in Arizona. It seems an unlikely coalition of the usual anti-marijuana forces with apprehensive patients in the medical marijuana community, who are afraid the new law would “pull a Washington” on them, is in the lead.
“Pull a Washington?” you may be asking. “What the hell is that?”
Well, that, boys and girls, is what happened to the unfortunate medical marijuana patients in Washington state, where backers of 2012’s Initiative 502 promised patients that the recreational legalization law “wouldn’t affect patients.” Of course, it only took about five minutes after voters approved I-502 for prospective recreational marijuana merchants to collude with law enforcement and the Washington Legislature to decimate the medical marijuana law, which had been working just fine since voters approved it in 1998.Are the concerns justified? Well, that depends upon whom you ask, and as unfortunately seems to be a common case in the cannabis community, many of the would-be spokespeople for both sides of the debate can be less than charming. The acrimonious tone from public fellows like Phoenix New Times’ often unpleasant Ray Stern, who has been assailing patients who are spooked by Prop 205, does little to stem the erosion of support for the flawed measure, which on the face of it appears to greatly curtail growing rights for patients in the state.
In any event, a new poll from O-H Predictive Insights shows that just 43 percent of likely Arizona voters favor Prop 205, with 47 percent opposing it, reports Christopher Conover at Arizona Public Media. Ten percent of Arizona voters remain undecided on the recreational legalization measure. Arizona voters in 2010, on a very narrow vote, approved the legalization of cannabis for medicinal purposes.
According to those who make it their business to watch poll numbers and make predictions, 43 percent support at this point in the process — less than a month before voting — is very bad news for Prop. 205.J.P. Holyoak of the Prop 205 campaign tried to put the best face on things; he called the new poll an “outlier,” reports Stern at Phoenix New Times. Holyoak pointed to conflicting polls from late August, one from O-H Predictive that showed Prop 205 behind 51-40, and another about the same time from The Arizona Republic, Arizona State University’s journalism school, and the Morrison Institute, which showed the measure winning 50-40, with 10 percent undecided.
Gov. Doug Ducey is leading opposition to the measure, and he’s actively campaigned for its defeat. “We can stop this, but I do need leaders and decision-makers from across the state to step up,” Ducey said last month, reports Nancy Montoya at Arizona Public Media.Carlo Alfaro, deputy campaign manager for the Yes On Prop 205 campaign, said the biggest issue, for him, is how Arizona’s marijuana laws have been used to imprison people. “The only reason that this legalization campaign is here in this state is because thousands of Arizonans came out and said, ‘We agree with ending prohibition and regulating marijuana,” he said.
A distinct downside of opposing Prop 205 is that you have some damn nasty bedfellows if you do so. Insys Therapeutics, a Chandler, Arizona-based manufacturer of an opiate narcotic, fentanyl, has donated $500,000 top the campaign to defeat the measure, reports Christopher Ingraham of The Washington Post.
Supporters say that while Prop 205 “isn’t ideal,” it must be passed as a “step forward” and “will evolve to a more rational set of regulations as prohibitionist fears fail to materialize.”
Meanwhile, opponents of the measure within the marijuana community say Prop 205 has the potential to destroy Arizona’s medical marijuana program. They argue that most of the “life-altering felony penalties remain in place for low-level marijuana crimes.”
Employers would still be allowed, under Prop 205, to fire employees for using marijuana, even when they used it legally during their off-time. Opponents are also concerned about preserving firearms protections, DUI protections, parental protections, raid and search protections, and post conviction relief.