PHOENIX - Before long, recreational marijuana could be legal in Arizona.
Proposition 205, which would legalize marijuana in the state, passed a legal hurdle last week when a judge rejected a challenge to the initiative by anti-legalization group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy.
The initiative's opponents, including the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, are planning to appeal the decision, but there's a short timeline as mail-in ballots are scheduled to be printed within the next few weeks.
The group behind the initiative, Marijuana Policy Project, also worked to get legalization on the books in other states. The project's website states it is "responsible for changing most of the state marijuana laws that have been reformed since 2000."
The initiative, if voted into law, would not take effect until Sept. 1, 2018.
Legislative language is notoriously difficult to parse (read Prop 205 for yourself here), but here are some of the nuts and bolts of the proposition:
People 21 or older would be allowed to use marijuana products out of public sight. The drug would not be allowed in schools and employers would still be able to prohibit employees from marijuana use.
Landlords could also bar tenants from keeping or smoking marijuana in their homes.
Additionally, it would be against the law to drive while under the influence of marijuana, though other states have had difficulty policing that portion of their laws.
Those who smoke or otherwise use marijuana in public could be subject to a $300 fine.
People would be allowed to have up to 1 ounce of marijuana at a given time, and they would be able to grow up to six plants in their own homes without having to apply for a cultivator's license.
Pot shop licensing
Current medical marijuana dispensaries would have the chance to apply for a recreational license, and other potential store owners could also apply. The application fee would be $5,000 and if approved, a license would cost $20,000.
No "weed bars" would be allowed until at least 2020 because no business would be able to apply for a license to allow marijuana use inside the business until that point, and maybe later.
The number of shop licenses granted could not exceed 10 percent of the number of liquor sales licenses in the state.
Where does the money go?
This is the big question for many people -- how would the measure help Arizona?
According to the language of the initiative, after paying for upkeep of the marijuana department, 80 percent of revenue would go to school districts and charter schools, weighted based on number of students.
Half of that money would be earmarked for overhead -- from construction to paying teacher salaries. The other half would be used to provide full-day kindergarten instruction.
The final 20 percent of the revenue would go to the state's health department for public education on the harms of drug use, including marijuana and alcohol.
Cities or towns would also get half of the licensing fees from shops within their boundaries.
Gov. Doug Ducey would have the task of appointing a director of the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, which would regulate marijuana in the state. He would also appoint seven people to the marijuana commission, four completely independent of the marijuana industry and three with ties to it.
The appointments would run for three years. No more than four people could be from a single political party, and no more than two from a given county.
An investigations unit would also be under the umbrella of the department, looking into unlicensed sales of marijuana and sales to those under the age of 21.