In what is shaping up to be a major election for the legalization of medicinal and recreational cannabis in the United States, a number of states will decide tomorrow whether or not they’ll play a part in the nation’s ongoing marijuana movement. On the recreational side, we have California, Massachusetts, Maine, Arizona, and Nevada, while Florida, Arkansas, Montana, and North Dakota will decide on some form of medical legalization.
As both proponents and opponents of Arizona's recreational cannabis initiative Proposition 205 gear up for the outcome of the state's election tomorrow, both sides are ramping up the amount of cash spent to try and influence undecided voters. Thus far, Prop 205 is shaping up to be one of the closest races regarding cannabis in this year's election, with polls showing 48% in support of the ballot, 47% opposed to it, and the remainder as undecided.
In a race that will likely be decided by the undecided voters, both sides have been racing to amass cash to support their position. For instance, the pro-cannabis Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol has raised $2 million out of the $5.2 million in the last six weeks. Additionally, the Marijuana Policy Project and its accompanying foundation have injected close to $1.6 million into the state, which has been used to ensure that the measure is on the ballot as well as promote it to voters.
The state of Arizona has also seen $410,000 from the California-based Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soaps, which is known to use hemp oil in their cleaning products. Drug Policy Action, an organization that is aiming to reform the nation’s drug laws, recently donated $350,000 in support of Prop 205. Unfortunately, the cannabis proponents have had their financial support matched by opposing forces, such Discount Tire, casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, and even the Arizona Chamber of Commerce.
The Arizona Chamber of Commerce has been one of the primary forces against recreational cannabis legalization in the state, donating around $1.5 million to prevent the measure from passing. Meanwhile, Discount Tires owner Bruce Halle, a Paradise Valley, Arizona resident, has contributed around $1 million to stopping Prop 205. Smaller amounts have been offered by the likes of Sheldon Adelson, a well known opponent to cannabis legalization across the country who put up $500,000 to prevent the initiative from passing in Arizona.
The arguments for and against Prop 205 have centered around the neighboring state Colorado, and how recreational cannabis legalization has positively or negatively impacted their local economy and pupulation. Prop 205 supporters have constantly cited the additional tax revenue that could go towards schools, while opponents argue that teenage use in the state has gone up since legalization (a claim that is considerably unfounded).
All in all, the battle for Prop 205 is expected to be extremely tight, and the cannabis initiative can use all the support that is can muster. So, if you or someone you know lives in the Grand Canyon State, make sure you spread the gospel of Prop 205.