A Closer Look at Arizona’s Ballot Initiatives

Proposition 207 – Marijuana Legalization Initiative

This proposition aims to legalize the use, purchase, and transport of marijuana for people who are 21 years of age or older. People also have the ability to grow marijuana plants, although there are restrictions on the quantity and location. Smoking marijuana in public and driving under the influence of marijuana are still illegal under this provision. Section 3 of the initiative appropriates money within the medical marijuana fund that was collected from fees, civil penalties, and private donations to a variety of causes. These include teen suicide prevention, maternal morality prevention, posion control, substance abuse prevention, and reducing impaired driving. 

Institutions such as employers, schools, healthcare facilities, and government properties have the right to restrict the use of marijuana on their property at their discretion. Additionally there are clear restrictions against the use of marijuana for individuals under the age of 21. For example, underage people who possess, consume, transport, or transfer marijuana will pay a fine and receive drug counseling for their first violation. For a second violation, the person will be charged with a petty offense and required to attend more drug counseling. For a third or subsequent violation, the individual will be charged with a misdemeanor. Underage people who grow marijuana or lie about their age to acquire marijuana will face slightly more severe consequences, beginning with a petty offense on the first violation. 

There are also strict licensing requirements for the establishment of dispensaries and pharmacies supplying marijuana, including ratios and limits on the number of establishments. The initiative also provides methods for oversight such as random inspection of marijuana facilities and requiring surveillance of vehicles being used to transport marijuana. People wishing to work as marijuana facility agents are required to be registered with the department and must fulfill certain background check requirements. Marijuana establishments have the ability to advertise, but places restrictions on the type of advertising, including an age verification requirement for ads targeted at individuals. Marketing of marijuana products is also limited in its ability to mimic familiar food, drink, and figures that appeal to children. 

Money that is collected through the excise tax and license fees is put into a Smart and Safe Arizona fund which allocates money to community colleges, municipal police and fire departments, state highway funds, the Justice Reinvestment Fund, and to the Arizona Attorney General for enforcement of marijuana regulations. The Justice Reinvestment Fund consists of funding for local public health departments and the Department of Homeland Security to create nonprofit justice reinvestment programs and to address Arizona public health issues.

Proposition 208 – Invest in Education Initiative 

Proposition 208 is known as the Tax on Incomes Exceeding $250,000 for Teacher Salaries and Schools Initiative. The purpose of this initiative is to address underfunding that has led to a shortage of school teachers and ensure that a long term plan is implemented to improve Arizona’s education system. It establishes the Student Support and Safety Fund which provides funding for school districts, charter schools, the creation of a Career Training and Workforce Fund, and teacher academies. 

The Career Training and Workforce Program expands career and technical education, hires more school counselors, creates academic acceleration programs, introduces more advanced placement and international baccalaureate classes, increases access to dual enrollment programs, minimizes absences from school, provides tutoring for students that need it, and expands mental health and mentoring resources. 

The Arizona teachers academy is a program meant to be implemented in postsecondary institutions as a way of incentivizing students to join the education profession by committing to teach in Arizona public schools after the completion of their training. There is a focus on high-demand specializations such as special education, science, technology, engineering, and math. It also develops an accelerated model for low-income students and schools located on Native American reservations. Additionally, the recruitment process places an emphasis on recreating the diversity of the state student population within the Arizona teachers academy. 

This initiative creates a 3.5% tax on income in addition to existing income tax. However, it only applies to individuals filing with an income over $250,000 or joint filing with an income over $500,000. 

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