Voters have a choice this Election Day to decide the future of marijuana policies in Arizona. A vote for Prop. 207 moves Arizona forward, while a “no” vote continues the failed policies of marijuana prohibition.
Let’s be clear, legalization neither creates nor normalizes the marijuana market. This market already exists in Arizona and is widespread. But under a policy of prohibition the market remains underground and those involved in it largely remain unaccountable. They don’t pay taxes, they don’t check IDs, and they don’t test the purity of their product. Legalization and regulation, by contrast, allow for lawmakers to establish legal parameters regarding where, when, and how the cannabis market may operate. These regulations also provide oversight regarding who may legally operate in said markets and provides guidelines so that those who do can engage in best practices.
Such regulations already exist with regard to the retail production and sale of alcohol and tobacco — two substances that are far more dangerous and costlier to society than the responsible adult use of cannabis. The imposition and enforcement of tobacco and alcohol regulations, coupled with public awareness campaigns highlighting these products’ risks and acknowledging the distinctions between their use versus abuse, has proven effective at reducing the public’s overall consumption of these substances, especially among adolescents. In fact, according to the latest federal government survey data, teens’ use of alcohol and cigarettes now stand at or near historic lows.
These successes can be replicated with cannabis.
Proposition 207 establishes a pragmatic regulatory framework that allows for the legal, licensed commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to adults, but restricts and discourages its use among young people. Such an above-ground, regulated, licensed system best reduces the risks associated with the plant’s use or abuse. By contrast, advocating for marijuana’s continued criminalization only compounds them. Vote “yes” on Prop. 207.
Paul Armentano, deputy director, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws