ARIZONA, USA — Voters in Arizona have voted to legalize recreational marijuana in the state by passing Proposition 207 in the 2020 election.
However, just because the Smart and Safe Arizona Act passed doesn't mean you're allowed to freely smoke yet. The election needs to be certified before Arizonans would legally be allowed to recreationally use, then legal sales could start in March 2021.
"First, the election needs to be certified in early December," Campaign Manager for Smart and Safe Arizona Stacy Pearson said.
Just because the proposition received more "yes" votes than "no" votes during the election doesn't mean it instantly becomes law. First, Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs must first certify the election.
The certification of elections is needed to provide the needed authority for swearing in newly elected officeholders and validating new voter initiatives. Certification takes place after ballots are counted in an election and canvasing, or compilation of election returns and validation of the outcome, is completed.
Selling marijuana without a license will also remain illegal after the proposition's passing. The application process for licenses will be opened up on Jan. 19, and the Arizona Department of Health Services (ADHS) will have a maximum of 60 days to issue licenses after applications are sent in.
The issuing of licenses will be prioritized to owners who are “from communities disproportionately impacted by the enforcement of previous marijuana laws" due to the Social Equity Ownership Program enacted by Proposition 207.
"It's decriminalized once the initiative passes and is certified by the Secretary of State, but legal sales won't begin until around March of 2021," Pearson said.
Those who have previously been convicted of criminal marijuana charges will also find benefits in Prop. 207. Individuals who were previously convicted of possessing less than one ounce of marijuana or growing six or fewer plants will be able to petition to have their record expunged stating July 12 next year.