Margaret Sedam  8/23/2018

According to Ballotpedia  there was multiple citizen initiatives proposed for the ballot in November; the dreaded mid-terms.  It should be noted the mid-terms are usually voter light in all states due to lack of a citizenry that is engaged in the process or aware of how directly the mid-terms affect them; I digress.  Instead I took a look at what is not on the Arizona ballot for 2018 mid-terms looking at the herb, cannabis.

Legalization of All Drugs – no signatures filed

Marijuana Legalization & Regulations Ban Initiative – no signatures filed

Medical Marijuana Expansion Initiative – no signatures filed

Marijuana Legalization Initiative – no signatures filed

Industrial Hemp Initiative – no signatures filed

The one commonality between all of the above ballot measures is that no signatures were filed.  The question that I posit is, what that could mean about the citizens of AZ and/or those advocating for legalization.  The first word that comes to mind is apathy.

In July, the Arizona Capital Times published an opinion based on an ASU study stating that the Arizona eligible voter’s state of apathy is reaching “crisis levels” due to the fact that at least half of eligible voters do not vote. Being an independent myself I wondered at the participation for that voting bloc.  According to the ASU study participation by independents in primary elections is far worse, noting that primary elections in Arizona are “primarily forgotten.”  It is noted that only 10 percent of registered independents voted in the 2016 primary election.  Unlike general election years, during mid-terms independents can choose either a Republican or Democratic ballot. Voter turnout in the primary is poor across the board, with just 31 percent of registered Democrats and 43 percent of registered Republicans voting.

In October of 2017 the Herald/Review Media published an article on the apathetic Arizona voter submitting that voter apathy is a result of the many pay raises Governor Ducey has awarded to government officials over the course of 2.5 years.  The article puts one raise in excess of 40 per cent and raises of up to 20 per cent for over 40 staff members. State workers haven’t received an annual wage increase for several years and merit “bumps,” come to an average of about 1.4 percent a year. There are other raises and if you care to get names and amounts check out the following link.  https://www.myheraldreview.com/opinion/why-arizona-voters-are-apathetic/article_531bca76-b480-11e7-812d-fbb291d8d03d.html.  The article claims that “big pay raises for the governor’s cronies and the absence of any penalty for the state’s former top law enforcement official… there’s a mix that’s sure to foster apathy among Arizona voters.”

Still others site a lack of funds from active players in the industry.  It is my opinion that Attorney Jeff Sessions stated crackdown on states with medical marijuana laws may play an important role as well as the law itself, which still lists cannabis as a Schedule 1 drug; right up there with heroin, LSD, quaaludes, and peyote.  I submit that de-scheduling cannabis should be a no brainer and I wonder at the real motive behind the reluctance to legalize.

Finally, I also ponder the lack of a straight forward initiative or bill that would decriminalize the herb in Arizona.  According to research there was a bill (HB-2014) that would set the penalty of less than an ounce of cannabis to a hundred dollar fine, however, it failed.  Had it succeeded it would have been a mini-step in the right direction, however, all other sanctions remain the same from possession of an ounce up.  According to MPP many attempts were made to narrow Arizona’s medical marijuana program during this legislative session although all have met with defeat.

The initiative for the legalization of hemp and its lack of signatures was the most surprising to me but that’s another story.  It occurred to me that readers might enjoy this map of apathy.

Damn, Arizona and Hawaii. You really, really didn’t like either candidate, did you? [Via Reddit]