Lawmakers pitch recreational marijuana as a way to help fund Arizona teacher pay raises
By Derek Staahl
Two state lawmakers – a Republican and a Democrat – are renewing their push to legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona and pitching it as a revenue source to help fund teacher raises.
State Rep. Todd Clodfelter (R-Tucson) said he planned to meet with representatives of Arizona’s medical marijuana industry to discuss the topic on Sunday. He and state Rep. Mark Cardenas introduced legislation in February that would put a measure on the November ballot, letting voters decide if they wanted to legalize marijuana for adults 21 and over.
The measure allows local governments to opt out of recreational sales, bans marijuana consumption in public places, prohibits driving under the influence, and caps the allowable amount of cannabis at one ounce. House Concurrent Resolution 2037 has yet to receive a hearing in committee.
“We plan to inject that as part of the budget discussions,” Cardenas said. “You want $150 million for teachers for their cost of living adjustments, to make up a significant part of their raise? Here you go.”
The non-partisan Joint Legislative Budget Committee does not have a posted analysis of HCR 2037, but Cardenas said analysts estimated it could generate $150 million depending on the number of cities and counties that allow recreational sales. That’s a little less than a quarter of what the Governor’s Office of Strategic Planning and Budgeting projects 20 percent teacher raises will cost: about $650 million.
In 2016, Arizona voters narrowly rejected Prop 205, which would have allowed adult use. An analysis by JLBC projected recreational sales under Prop 205 would generate $82 million in revenue by FY 2020, with about $69.6 million available for schools after mandated expenses for drug enforcement.
Cardenas said Prop 205 had a lower revenue estimate than his legislation because it capped the number of recreational dispensaries.
“Polling shows the majority of Arizonans are in support of legalized cannabis, so our job is to make sure it happens. To have those conversations. To lay egos aside and realize this is a revenue source that we desperately need.”
To make it onto the November ballot, the legislation would need the blessing of Gov. Doug Ducey, who was staunchly opposed to Prop 205. A spokesman said Friday he’s not aware of any significant change of heart on the issue by the governor.
Check out the original article at AZfamily.com