The Show on KJZZ

The Case For And Against Arizona Proposition 207, The Smart And Safe Arizona Act

By Steve Goldstein, Mark Brodie
Published: Wednesday, October 21, 2020 - 12:07pm
Updated: Saturday, October 24, 2020 - 9:53am

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Signs for and against Proportion 207
Sky Schaudt/KJZZ
Signs for and against Proposition 207 in north Phoenix.

The election is officially less than two weeks away, and soon we'll know who will win our U.S. Senate race and whether or not Arizona will allow recreational marijuana.

Last week, The Show heard from those who are for and against Proposition 208, the Invest in Education Act. The Show brings you two more voices, this time on Proposition 207, also known as the Smart and Safe Arizona Act.

In Favor Of Proposition 207

MARK BRODIE: ... The proposition is asking voters to decide whether or not to legalize adult recreational marijuana. A similar proposal was defeated in 2016, but supporters of the initiative were not deterred. And now Arizonans have a chance to vote again. Here is Chad Campbell, chair of Smart and Safe Arizona, with his pitch on why you should support Prop. 207.

CHAD CAMPBELL: We named this proposition the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, for a very simple reason: This is the responsible way to legalize adult-use marijuana. By voting yes on Proposition 207, Arizonans will begin to eliminate a black market and replace it with a safer and strictly-regulated program. The program will limit the number of retail locations to a reasonable number, protect kids by requiring childproof packaging and labeling, protect employers by letting them set their own rules for their workplaces, and allow local governments the ability to decide where or even if they want any locations in their communities. Furthermore, the program will create thousands of new, good-paying jobs in communities across our state, and it will generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue for community colleges, public safety, roads and health programs. And perhaps most importantly, we'll take a huge step forward in modernizing our criminal justice laws to make our state safer and fairer. First, we'll begin by saving millions of dollars a year by no longer arresting and locking up non-dangerous people who should never been arrested in the first place. Instead of ruining their lives, we'll create more options for them through diversion so they can be productive members of our community. And we'll also allow people who have been previously convicted for personal possession of marijuana to have their records expunged so they can have more opportunities for jobs, education and housing. And why is all of this important? Because when it comes to marijuana laws, Arizona is way behind the times. While the rest of the nation is moving forward on marijuana laws, Arizona is stuck in the past. We're the only state in the nation that can treat a first time arrest for possession of marijuana as a felony. That is ludicrous, and we need to end that now. And it's also obvious that prohibition doesn't work. All prohibition leads to is a dangerous, unregulated black market that puts our communities in jeopardy. Proposition 207 will put an end to this. It will bring Arizona in line with other states in how to treat marijuana possession, and will create a safer, regulated market for use by responsible adults who choose to do so. Simply put, legal is safer. And that's why I ask every Arizonan to join me in voting yes on Proposition 207.

GOLDSTEIN: Chad Campbell is chair of Smart and Safe Arizona, as well as the senior vice president at Strategies 360, a consulting firm. 

Against Proposition 207

GOLDSTEIN: And now let's hear from someone who is opposed to Proposition 207. Cindy Dahlgren is with the Vote No on Prop 207. She is not convinced the proposition is smart or safe.

CINDY DAHLGREN: Prop. 207 was written by the marijuana industry for the marijuana industry. It's not about making money for the state. Many so-called legal states never reach their projected revenue. And though Colorado did, it now spends $4.50 on marijuana-related expenses for every dollar in revenue. Prop. 207 is not about funding schools. Not a dime goes toward K through 12 education. And it's not about ending the black market. It's been well-established that the legalization of recreational marijuana does the opposite because buyers don't want to pay the tax. Prop. 207 is not about keeping low-level marijuana possessors out of jail. Department of Corrections records show that is not a current problem. Prop. 207 is about marijuana sellers making a lot more money at the expense of Arizonans. It's deceptive in its title and its details. They say it's legal only for adults. But that's the case in all legal states, and the accessibility leads to a lot more teens using it. We know marijuana use damages the developing brains of young people, causing permanent problems. Proponents say Prop. 207 protects kids, but then allows marijuana sellers to advertise pot-laced gummies, snacks and vape pens on all platforms — including social media. They say the initiative doesn't allow impaired driving, but they remove the only clear standard of impairment on the books for prosecution. And there is no roadside test available to gauge marijuana impairment like there is for alcohol. Almost 70% of users in Colorado admit to driving stoned — a third of them do it daily. It's no surprise marijuana-related traffic deaths doubled there after legalization. They claim employers can prohibit marijuana use, but that's only at the workplace. There's nothing stopping an employee from using and then going to work at a daycare or elderly care facility or a work site. If marijuana sellers really just wanted to decriminalize marijuana, they could have done so in a one-page document. Instead, they wrote 17 pages of changes to Arizona law to protect themselves and their current and future customer base. And under Arizona's Voter Protection Act, legislators would not be allowed to fix any problems that arise. We would be stuck with Prop. 207. Every detail.

BRODIE: That is Cindy Dahlgren with Vote No on Proposition 207. You can find these commentaries as well as the ones for Prop. 208 on our website, KJZZ.org.

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