History of CBD and Cannabis: Arizona
Nothing sums up the distinction between voters and the Arizona state legislature’s conflicting views on cannabis better than Bill Montgomery. As the current state Supreme Court justice, Montgomery has lead the charge against cannabis reform in the state since the early 2000s. Infamously, he told a veteran who spoke in support of legalization: “I have no respect for you, because you’re the enemy”.
Of course, a growing majority of residents have been combating the state’s cannabis and CBD policy for the better part of two decades. However, legalization attempts have met failure time and again.
Currently, CBD is technically legal in Arizona under the federal Farm Bill of 2014, yet health officials and regulators still treat the industry with a high degree of hostility. Even though a 2016 legalization initiative came just short of passing, cannabis with any amount of THC is illegal for recreational use throughout the state.
Cannabis, CBD, and Arizona
In 1996, Arizona residents shocked the rest of the nation when 65 percent of voters approved Prop 200, which would allow physicians to prescribe cannabis. However, voter’s celebration didn’t last long as just weeks later the bill would be repealed by state legislators.
Even after the legislator’s repealed the bill, voters re-affirmed it through the 1998 veto referendum dubbed Prop 300 (before it was, yet again, struck down in federal court). Ultimately, this is what gave legislators a glimpse into the public’s strong and surprising support of pro-cannabis policy.
It would take until 2010 for cannabis to be medically legal, even when the governor, attorney general, and all of the state’s county prosecutors loudly and publicly opposed the initiative.
Despite multiple nearly successful measures, cannabis is still not legal for recreational use in Arizona. Several grassroots campaigns have been just narrowly defeated by hugely funded, well-advertised anti-cannabis sponsors. These funded campaigns featured financial backing from Governor Dulcey, Discount Tire, and Drug Policy Alliance Project.
Even though cannabis isn’t legal for recreational use, CBD occupies a gray area that makes it effectively legal throughout the entire state. Residents and vendors feel comfortable selling, possessing, and using low THC CBD products since they are legal on the federal level.
It remains to be seen whether the current right-leaning legislature will try to further restrict the CBD market; however, policy experts believe this is unlikely. Since CBD isn’t intoxicating or addictive, many legislators think it’s completely benign. Additionally, the revenue created by taxation on legal hemp crops has paid back the state in dividends.
As the CBD market becomes more closely entrenched with existing governmental departments, it’s likely we could see renewed public efforts towards full marijuana legalization in Arizona.