Arizona’s ballot measure to legalize marijuana passed Tuesday with voters deciding to join 11 other states that have done so despite a conflict with federal law, according to The Associated Press.
Proposition 207 would legalize possession of as much as an ounce of marijuana for adults 21 and older and set up a licensing system for retail sales of the drug, starting with the medical-marijuana dispensaries already operating in the state. Sales could begin in March under the measure.
Once the election results are made official Nov. 30, possession and growing as many as six plants at home will be legal for adults.
The measure also would allow people previously convicted of marijuana crimes, such as the felony charge for possession, to have their records expunged by the courts.
And it would establish special “social equity” licenses for communities historically disenfranchised by marijuana laws.
SEE THE WINNERS: Arizona election results
The Department of Health Services would be responsible for determining who is eligible to apply for those social equity licenses, and would also be responsible for developing rules for the program and reviewing applications from medical dispensaries.
The approximately 120 medical-marijuana dispensaries operating in the state today, which have provided nearly all of the funding for Proposition 207, would be allowed to sell the drug to anyone over 21, not just people who have a doctor’s recommendation and state-issued medical-marijuana card.
Dispensaries are anticipating a crush of new business. The Mint Dispensaries, for example, are prepared to expedite the construction of a new, $25 million, 100,000-square-foot growing operation in north Phoenix to keep their Guadalupe and Mesa retail sites stocked if Proposition 207 passes.
The Mint also already has approval from Mesa to expand its dispensary there as well, and can add additional registers in the Guadalupe store beyond the 21 in the store now, said Raúl Molina, a partner and senior vice president of operations.
“We think we’re ready for it,” Molina said before Election Day.
Company officials do not want to run out of marijuana for medical patients or be left with no supply for recreational customers, which has happened in other states that transitioned from medical to recreational sales.
A similar measure also passed in New Jersey on Tuesday, according to the Associated Press, while recreational-marijuana initiatives were leading in early results in Montana and South Dakota as well.
Backers, opponents react to election
Attorney Adam Trenk, director of the Cannabis Department at the Rose Law Group, said nearly all medical dispensaries are expected to apply to sell recreational marijuana.
“I can’t imagine a world where they wouldn’t because they immediately expand the demographic of people who can walk into the store from just those with (medical-marijuana) cards to anyone over the age of 21,” Trenk said.
He also said his firm would help clients, including some through pro bono work, to expunge criminal records for marijuana-related crimes as allowed through the measure.
“We will, through community law centers, work to help those who qualify to get
- Some countries, particularly in Asia, shifted their cultures after a pandemic to embrace mask-wearing in public places.
- Some Americans say they’ve been forever changed by the pandemic, particularly when it comes to hygiene practices like hand-washing and masks.
- For those with auto-immune diseases, that would be a positive shift.
Mandy Elmore, 47, has been wearing masks for more than 20 years. That’s because she has cystic fibrosis, a hereditary disease that affects her lungs and digestive system.
Because of her illness, a cold or flu can land her in the hospital. Prior to the pandemic, Elmore, who lives in Dallas, Texas, had to stop going to church or traveling on planes to avoid strangers coughing and sneezing directly on her.
“Masks offer freedom for those of us who are sick,” she said. “I would feel comfortable going to church in the winter or to movies or to birthday parties if people could think about those like me who truly suffer as a result of a simple cold virus.”
For millions of Americans like Elmore, it would change their lives for the better if it became more of a cultural norm in the U.S. for people to wear masks when they’re under the weather or in crowded areas. The West has stigmatized mask-wearing, but in countries like Japan or South Korea, residents might get dirty looks if they hop on a subway with a sniffle and no mask.
Still, there’s reason for skepticism. Not everyone in America is wearing masks, even now, when public health officials are strongly encouraging them to do so. Rallies to protest masks have popped up across the country, with many Americans pointing out that it’s a violation of their personal freedoms.
But for others, who potentially represent a less vocal majority, it could become the new normal. Since the start of the pandemic, many people bought a handful of masks for the first time and have gotten used to wearing them in public. Doctors and public health experts believe that American culture could fundamentally shift to embrace new hygiene practices.
“I think we do need a new culture of masks, at least any time not feeling well, and I think masks are in and handshakes out for the indefinite future,” said Dr. Tom Frieden, the former director of the C.D.C. during the Obama Administration and the president of global health initiative Resolve to Save Lives.
“Post pandemic, there will be new social norms,” added Dr. Panagis Galiatsatos, a pulmonary and critical care doctor, who treats patients with chronic respiratory conditions like COPD and cystic fibrosis, as well as Covid-19.
“I think face masks will continue to be used by the general public in times when they don’t feel well, and honestly we’re realizing that no one feels slighted without