Supreme Court Judge James Smith rejected arguments against the initiative earlier in August, and on August 20 his decision was upheld. Those who opposed the initiative believed that the initiative did not properly summarize the changes that would occur if it became law. One example of this was featured through a proposed 16 percent excise tax on cannabis sales that cannot be changed later on. However, Judge Smith wrote in his ruling that the principal provisions were adequately described by the initiative. “Addressing legalizing a previously illegal substance must account for laws touching many parts of life,” Smith wrote. “But if everything in an initiative is a principal provision, then nothing is.”
Smart and Safe Arizona would allow people 21 and older to possess, consume and sell cannabis for recreational purposes. The aforementioned 16 percent excise tax would help fund state services such as community colleges, public safety, health and roads (an estimated total of $300 million every year. The initiative calls for the creation of a licensing organization to protect already existing medical cannabis businesses. It would also allow for 26 social equity licenses dedicated strictly to members of the community who have been negatively impacted by the war on drugs.
Advocates in Arizona have long sought to legalize recreational cannabis, as seen in the ballot initiative that didn’t pass in the 2016 election season. It was one of the only states whose cannabis-related measure did not pass, in comparison to states like California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada, which all passed recreational cannabis measures successfully. If voters choose to vote for Smart and Safe Arizona, Arizona could become the 11th state to legalize recreational cannabis.