Friday, February 13, 2015

Safer AZ Legalization Update 2/13/15


Safer AZ has continued to represent the AZ cannabis community at large in our negotiations with MPP on the language of their new ballot measure. The following is a result of our negotiations w MPP and with our lawyer Tom Dean’s work on the drafting committee. This updates the Feb. 8th report available here.
For an overview of the ongoing process, or specific video updates, please refer to the Safer Arizona You Tube Channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVOIFAJ_BGenMXw1EqTQZKg)
New Progress in Polling on AZ Personal Grow
Many know that a huge factor in shaping the language on the issue of citizens’ rights to produce their own cannabis at home was the question of how well the issue polled among the general public. While few marijuana users opposed personal grow, MPP and those investing in their ballot measure will act based on the interests of the larger Arizona voting community. With a campaign of more than $2 million at stake, it is small wonder polling was closely watched on the question.
A separate poll was done in late December, early January, that included questions on legalization, which indicated that personal grow rights would have a significant negative impact on the likelihood of passage.  The initial assertion by some was that the polling said home grow had to be cut from the language before the final draft was filed.
Update—Rob Kampia the leader of MPP has rejected the early poll results and MPP is paying for a poll that is being conducted during the middle two weeks of February. Inside track says that despite concerns in the AZ mmj industry, MPP is committed to keeping personal grow in the language at all costs. The results of the poll will be available by the end of February and the finalized language will be filed in early March at the outside.
Issues of Concern in Current Language
Following an aggressive round of public presentations, Safer AZ identified widespread support for several provisions:
What’s Good
By and large this draft satisfies many of the concerns Safer AZ had about grow rights and small business access. DUI provisions are good; citizen grow rights include possessing ALL the marijuana produced on personal premises; protections for marijuana accessory use and promotion.
But also a series of specific concerns:
What’s Bad
The shift of licensing for adult use marijuana from DHS to Department of Gaming, means a delay in new license implementation until June of 2019 and that existing marijuana establishments will have to apply for entirely separate licensing to expand into the adult market. This will prohibit new investment into both the ballot measure’s campaign and the industry. Unspecified penalties for larger possession and “intent to distribute” offenses means those charges revert to existing state statutes and remain severe felonies.
And called for revisions:

A)     keeping licensing for all marijuana establishments in the existing DHS structure
Update: responding to widespread concerns, the draft currently will retain licensing in DHS until a separate Department of Marijuana can be created.
B)      excluding adult learning facilities from prohibited locations
Update: no change in language at this time, though an AMMA case current pending before the state supreme court could rule that adult learning facilities such as colleges and trade schools could be exempted under the AMMA and similar protections could be argued here.
C)      explicitly including the limited license fee schedule in the fee section
Update: the limited cultivation license fee listing is currently scheduled to be included.
D)     raising allowable limits of possession outside of one’s residence to 2 & ½ ounces
Update: Under consideration, but a chief MPP concern has to do w accusations of interstate commerce and with out of state pot dealers tourist shopping their way across the state. There is a possibility of gaining ground on this issue.
E)      requiring housing discrimination against cannabis be explicitly written into housing leases:
Update: Under consideration
F)      listing penalties for larger possession (greater than one ounce) and “intent to distribute,” and having those penalties be misdemeanors. Doing business without a license should result in civil penalties, not criminal ones.
Update: Misdemeanor penalties for possession up 2lbs in public is under consideration. Personal cultivation possession rights imply unlimited possession of marijuana has been cultivated on premises. There will be no extension of protections for unlicensed sale and trafficking of marijuana. Sharing between friends shall be protected.
G)     Protections from potential unreasonable local restrictions on private consumption and transportation of marijuana
Update: Under consideration, revisions limiting transportation restrictions are highly likely
H)     Remove the delay date of June 2019, allow for immediate implementation by existing dispensaries while they create their adult use establishments and let new investors have access to the market
Update: Originally revised Jan. 27 to a 12 month waiting period, the decision to keep licensing within the DHS structure is expected to reduce delays even further.
I)        Completing the spending formula for the accrued tax revenue to include: education, public health and law enforcement
Update: Under consideration

Additional
What’s Missing
1.       No protections against local jail time
Update: Being revised
2.       No provisions for expungement of existing criminal charges, current inmate resentencing option, or post-conviction relief
Update: Under consideration
3.       Language protecting home cultivators from the implied distinction between “concrete possession” and “actual possession.” An example of why this is a problem: If two people have 6 plants each and live in the same house, if the plants are co-mingled could either person be charged w possessing all 12 plants? What if a person had 12 plants at their household and was assisting someone at a separate location with their plants. Is that person now in possession of both sets of plants? This issue can be settled with some simple clarifying language.
Update: MPP asserts current protections sufficiently cover clarifications
4.       Parenting and discrimination protections similar to, though stronger than, those in the AMMA. Currently CPS can assert an automatic “neglect finding” if a parent is found with marijuana or even declares they have a medical card. We are calling for explicit protections that state “custody shall not be disturbed” for the legal possession and usage of marijuana by parents.
Update: Being revised. This specific passage has been cited for strong protections in the upcoming draft.


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