Arizona legislature opens with a flurry of cannabis bills

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January
12,
2020



 
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cannabis legalization update in arizona

Lawmakers
gather
in
Phoenix
for
a
short
three-month
session
that
opens
on
Monday
morning.
(dszc/iStock)

Nearly
four
years
have
passed
since
Arizona
voters
rejected
adult-use
cannabis
legalization—the
only
one
of
five
states
to
reject
it
on
the
November
2016
ballot.
Now
advocates
in
the
Grand
Canyon
State
are
gearing
up
again
to
legalize
the
plant
in
late
2020.

“We
hope
to
have
the
237,000
required
signatures
by
May,
and
get
the
campaign
going
shortly
after,”
said
Mikel
Weisser,
executive
director
of
Arizona
NORML
(the
National
Organization
for
the
Reform
of
Marijuana
Laws).

Weisser,
who
has
been
involved
with
the
state’s
NORML
chapter
since
2014,
expects
2020
to
be
a
banner
year
for
both
medical
and
adult-use
cannabis
in
Arizona.
He
said
a
beef
between
cannabis
industry
leaders
and
grassroots
marijuana
advocates
led
to
“significant”
differences
in
opinion
on
the
failed
Proposition
205
in
2016,
causing
even
a
chunk
of
pro-cannabis
residents
to
vote
against
it.

Disagreements
about
business
interests
and
growing
rights,
according
to
Weisser,
have
been
ironed
out
and
Arizona’s
cannabis
industry
finds
itself
“more
unified
than
ever.”
To
make
up
for
the
2.5%
loss
four
years
ago,
Weisser
has
already
started
campaigning
in
rural
Arizona.
He
called
the
non-urban
demographic
“vital”
to
success
at
the
ballot
box.

“We
have
that
community
on
our
side
now
instead
of
opposing
us,”
he
said.
“We
know
we’re
going
to
get
Phoenix
and
Tucson,
but
it’s
about
getting
the
people
outside
the
big
cities,
too.”

New
session
opens
Monday

Between
now
and
November,
plenty
of
cannabis-related
challenges
await
in
the
upcoming
legislative
session,
which
opens
in
Phoenix
on
Monday.
Republicans
control
the
house,
the
senate,
and
the
governor’s
mansion—and
the
party
here
has
traditionally
opposed
cannabis
reform,
despite
a
growing
openness
to
legalization
among
Republicans
nationwide.

Several
cannabis-related
bills
are
on
expected
to
be
considered
in
the
upcoming
four-month
session.
One
of
the
leading
measures
would
address
pediatric
patient
medical
access
on
school
campuses.
Students
with
severe
medical
conditions,
like
cancer
and
epilepsy,
would
be
allowed
to
take
medical
forms
of
cannabis
at
school.

If
passed,
the
bill
would
carve
out
an
exception
to
existing
state
law,
which
prohibits
all
forms
of
cannabis
on
school
property.

Weisser
said
the
medical
cannabis
would
come
in
capsule
or
oil
form,
not
as
a
brownie
or
as
smokable
flower.
Similar
measures
passed
in
California
and
Colorado
last
year,
and
Illinois
in
2018.

Ban
Eagle
20,
but
not
everything?

Another
measure
deals
with
pesticides
in
the
medical
cannabis
growing
process.
An
expected
bill
would
specifically
ban
the
use
of
pesticides
at
cultivation
facilities,
except
for
those
not
regulated
by
the
U.S.
Insecticide,
Fungicide
and
Rodenticide
Act.

Sponsored
by
Republican
majority
whip
Sen.
Sonny
Borelli,
the
pesticide
bill
would
specifically
target
the
fungicide
Eagle
20.
The
popular
agricultural
product
is
widely
used
on
everything
from
lawn
grass
to
fruit
trees.
Eagle
20
produces
a
highly
toxic
gas
when
heated
above
400
degrees,
however,
which
is
why
its
use
is
prohibited
on
tobacco
plants.
(For
context,
common
cannabis
flower
burns
at
around
450
degrees.)
There’s
currently
no
specific
state
law
prohibiting
the
use
of
Eagle
20
on
cannabis
grown
in
Arizona
and
sold
to
medical
patients.

Eagle
20
has
few
fans,
but
for
some
Borelli’s
early
draft
goes
too
far.

Borrelli’s
SB
1015
bill
would
ban
all
federally
identified
pesticides—not
just
Eagle
20—which
has
some
industry
representatives
crying
foul.
If
passed,
SB
1015
would
leave
just
essential
oils
and
natural
peppers
among
the
only
permitted
pesticides.

Pele
Fischer,
an
Arizona
lobbyist
representing
the
state’s
dispensary
association,
argued
Borelli’s
new
pesticide-free
testing
standard
would
not
allow
cultivators
to
grow
enough
high-quality
cannabis
to
meet
dispensary
demand.

Other
bills
to
consider

Sen.
Borelli
also
plans
to
sponsor
two
bills
that
might
be
considered
“trust
but
verify”
measures.
These
measures
would
give
the
Arizona
State
Department
of
Revenue
access
to
certain
records
kept
by
state-licensed
medical
marijuana
dispensaries.

Borelli
told
local
media
the
extra
audits
would
make
sure
dispensaries
are
in
fact
collecting
and
remitting
state
sales
tax
to
the
proper
marijuana
regulating
body,
the
Department
of
Health
Services.

Another
expected
bill
would
expand
the
number
of
medical
conditions
that
qualify
for
legal
medical
cannabis
use.
A
measure
sponsored
by
Rep.
Diego
Espinoza
(D-Tolleson)
adds
opioid
use
and
autism
to
the
state’s
list
of
qualifying
conditions.

A
separate
bill
sponsored
by
Rep.
Diego
Rodriguez
calls
for
expunging
certain
marijuana
possession
crimes
for
less
than
2.5
ounces
of
flower.

Key
players
in
the
session

As
with
most
state
legislatures,
a
few
powerful
lawmakers
can
make
or
break
a
measure’s
chances.
Here
are
a
few
people
to
watch
over
the
next
three
months
in
Phoenix.


Rep.
Pamela
Powers
Hannley
(D-Tuscon)

Powers
Hannley
sponsored
separate
cannabis
bills
last
session
to
increase
the
value
of
medical
marijuana
cards,
as
part
of
four
total
cannabis
bills
last
year.
She
was
also
a
strong
voice
in
pushing
through
SB1494,
an
omnibus
industry-supported
measure
which
set
stringent
new
testing
regulations
to
improve
the
quality
of
medical
cannabis
sold
at
dispensaries.
The
mega-bill
also
made
the
state’s
$150
medical
marijuana
card
valid
for
two
years
instead
of
just
one.

Powers
Hannley
told
the
Arizona
Capitol
Times
last
June
that
she
favors
full
legalization
of
cannabis
to
end
“over
policing”
of
the
plant.


Sen.
Sonny
Borrelli
(R-Lake
Havasu
City)

Borelli,
the
majority
whip,
has
long
supported
Arizona’s
industrial
hemp
farmers.
His
2018
bill
cleared
the
way
for
local
farmers
to
finally
start
growing
hemp
last
year.


Rep.
Randall
Friese
(D-Tucson):

Friese
sponsored
a
last-second
amendment
to
SB1494
last
year
that
allowing
medical
cannabis
patients
to
renew
their
state-issued
cards
every
two
years,
instead
of
annually.
His
bill
to
legalize
medical
cannabis edibles
fell
failed
in
a
narrow
vote
last
March.
Edibles
and
other
cannabis
extraction
products
were
ultimately

declared
legal

in
a
state
supreme
court
ruling
later
that
year.



 
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Chris Kudialis's Bio Image

Chris
Kudialis

Chris
Kudialis
is
a
Las
Vegas–based
cannabis
reporter.
He
has
written
articles
for
the
Los
Angeles
Times,
Las
Vegas
Sun,
Charlotte
Observer,
Houston
Chronicle,
Detroit
Free
Press,
and
Brazil’s
Rio
Times,
among
other
metropolitan
dailies.

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