Prop. 205 is bad law. Regardless of whether you support or oppose the legalization of recreational marijuana, this proposition is filled with poorly written rules and statements that will become law if passed. The bloated, 20-page initiative is nothing more than an old-fashioned group power grab designed to benefit the existing marijuana industry. Prop. 205 is bad for Arizona. For this reason, the Southern Arizona Leadership Council opposes Proposition 205 and encourages you to vote against this initiative.

This proposition pushes a false choice on Arizonans; one that could have long-lasting and dangerous ramifications if passed. The choice isn’t whether or not to legalize marijuana. Voters can always take it up again in a future election. Prop. 205 is a bad law, a transparent grab for market share funneling millions in revenue directly to the existing medical marijuana industry. The law would create additional government bureaucracy and cede municipal control to the state. At its core, Prop. 205 is counter to American values of free and fair enterprise, and local control.

Prop. 205 would create the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control, an additional state bureaucracy to be funded by new sales taxes on marijuana products. The cost of this bureaucracy calls into question the claim that the additional tax revenue would go to our schools and health care. Once the department’s expenses are fully paid, education and health care will get the leftovers. And we the taxpayer will be stuck paying for additional costs of legalized marijuana not identified in the initiative. The costs of increased addiction and treatment, increased driving under the influence arrests and prosecutions, and increased legal battles.

If passed this new law would create an uneven playing field by setting roadblocks for new licensees. The law favors existing medical marijuana dispensaries and those supporting the medical marijuana industry. Current providers have a four-month head start on obtaining the new licenses which are limited in number. They will also receive the highest tier of cultivating license while entrepreneurs new to the business will be relegated to the lowest class license. If new entries to the market can even obtain a license, barriers to entry protect the current providers.

The proposition will establish a Marijuana Commission that will issue, renew and control licenses. The seven-member commission will be made up of four members from outside the marijuana establishment, but three key people will be from existing marijuana establishments. These unfair licensing advantages granted to the existing marijuana industry have the potential to create a monopoly and diminish competition in the industry.

Perhaps most important is what is missing from this initiative. Prop. 205 denies local municipalities to opt out and prevent recreational marijuana in their towns or communities. While it states that local governments can place restrictions on the industry, it specifically guarantees any current medical marijuana entity the ability to enter the recreational field. So if your town has a medical marijuana facility, it cannot prevent recreational marijuana from being sold there.

This initiative, if approved by voters, is essentially final. The governor cannot veto the law and the legislature cannot repeal it. The difficulty of changing Prop. 205, means that a “yes” vote will chain us to a bad law with little recourse to improve or edit it.

Regardless of your view on the legalization of marijuana, Prop. 205 is wrong for Arizona. It is simply a scheme to enrich Arizona’s existing marijuana industry and it must not pass. Please join me and vote no on Prop. 205.

Ted Maxwell is vice president of the Southern Arizona Leadership Council, whose mission is to use the collective leadership of its nearly 140 business and community leaders to engage strategic issues facing the community to improve the economic vitality and quality of life.

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