Recreational marijuana: Question and answer guide to Prop. 205


This November, Arizonans will vote on whether to approve recreational marijuana. Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about Prop 205.

If Prop 205 is approved, when can recreational marijuana sales start?

March 1, 2018.

Where could recreational marijuana be sold?

Under Prop 205, marijuana would be sold at licensed retailers that are at least 500 feet from schools. The act allows individual cities to set stricter location limits through zoning. Individuals without a license cannot sell marijuana. Home delivery of marijuana would not be allowed until at least Jan 1., 2020. After that date, the newly formed Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control would have the option to allow home delivery.

How many licensed marijuana stores will there be?

The number of marijuana retail licenses is initially capped at 10 percent the number of liquor licenses until September 1, 2021. That’s an implied cap of 147 licenses, according to the Arizona Joint Legislative Budget Committee, because there are currently 1,473 active liquor store licenses. The JLBC notes the act does not clarify whether only active liquor licensees would be counted, but Prop 205’s creators have frequently cited the 147 license number as a cap. After September 1, 2021, the Department of Marijuana could approve more licenses. Cities can set restrictions on the number of retailers in their jurisdiction.

Some or most of the recreational retail licenses will be awarded to reorganized medical marijuana dispensaries. The act’s creators say that’s an intentional effort to limit the number of new store fronts. The Arizona Department of Health Services will award 31 new medical marijuana licenses in October, bringing the number of licensed dispensaries to 130, according to Tom Salow with the Division of Public Health Licensing Services at the Arizona Department of Health Services.

How can I buy recreational marijuana?

Any adult at least 21 years old can buy marijuana from a licensed retailer. By law, you’ll have to show some form of ID similar to purchasing alcohol. Buyers will also probably notice security, cameras, and alarms at the retail stores. Those rules will be set by the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control by Sept. 2017. Store hours may vary depending on where you live because the act allows cities to regulate store hours.

How much can I buy?

Adults can buy up to one ounce of marijuana at a time. That’s also the maximum amount you can possess. That one ounce can include up to 5 grams of “concentrated marijuana.” Adults who get caught with more than one ounce — but less than 2.5 ounces — are guilty of a petty offense punishable by a fine of up to $300. Adults who get caught with more than 2.5 ounces face a felony.

How much will pot be (tax included)?

Marijuana and marijuana products will have a 15 percent tax on top of all other state and local taxes. That means in Phoenix, marijuana will be taxed at a rate of 23.6 percent. Although adults can purchase up to one ounce of marijuana, people often buy an eighth of an ounce at a time. In Colorado, an eighth costs $30 to $50 dollars. In Phoenix, a $30 eighth after tax would be $37.08.

Can pot stores keep a list of buyers?

The state can’t force marijuana businesses to keep a list or record of personal identifying info other than information “typically acquired in a retail transaction.”

Where can people use marijuana?

The short answer: in private. Adults can’t even use marijuana at places that are licensed to sell it — at least initially. After January 1, 2020, the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control has the option of allowing permits for the use of marijuana within designated areas of any business. Think cigar bars or hookah bars for pot, or a restaurant with an enclosed outdoor patio that caters to tokers. Again, that would require approval from the department, and wouldn’t come until 2020 — about two years after sales would begin.

There are prohibitions on consuming marijuana while operating a car, boat or plane. Also, using marijuana on the grounds of a K-12 school or at a school-sponsored event is a strict no-no. The act says the government can ban pot in government buildings.

What happens if someone uses pot in public?

Adults who use or smoke marijuana in a public place are guilty of a petty offense punishable by a fine of no more than $300. The act does not specifically define what a public place is. Kids who get caught with marijuana are subject to the same fine, plus up to 24 hours of community service.

Can I smoke on private property, but outside on my front lawn or balcony?

Yes. The intent of Prop 205 is to allow smoking marijuana on private property such as a home, even in public view, said co-author J.P. Holyoak.

Can someone drive with marijuana in the car?

People over 21 can transport the legal amount of marijuana or marijuana plants, but drivers and passengers cannot use marijuana while inside a car that’s being operated. You also can’t drive while “impaired” by marijuana, but nailing down whether someone is impaired might be tricky, prosecutors warn. A provision in Prop 205 (§ 36-2860 B) says you cannot be considered “under the influence” of marijuana by simply having detectable levels in your body. That means unlike alcohol, there won’t be breathalyzer tests to see if you’re above the legal limit. Police and prosecutors will have to rely on other evidence to establish impairment, not a bright line test.

How about taking pot to work or using it on the job?

It’s probably a bad idea, but it’s up to your employer. The act specifically says employers don’t have to accommodate marijuana use — much like they don’t have to accommodate alcohol.

Can I grow my own marijuana at home?

Yes. Adults can grow up to 6 plants for personal use. Remember, you can’t sell it without a license. If two or more people live at a residence, the act has wording about a 12 plant limit. If you decide to grow pot at home, it cannot be in public view, and if it’s outside, it has to be in an enclosed, locked area. The Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control will establish exactly what that means. Violators will get hit with up to a $300 fine for a first offense, and a class 3 misdemeanor for offenses after that.

What happens if my kid gets caught with marijuana?

If your kid is caught with less than an ounce of marijuana, they’re guilty of a petty offense — the equivalent of a traffic ticket. It’s up to a $300 fine plus 24 hours of community service. That penalty applies if your kid is caught trying to buy pot with a fake ID, or if they get someone else to buy the pot for them. There’s also a $300 fine for a marijuana employee who intentionally looks the other way. If your kid is caught with more than an ounce, the old criminal statutes apply — they’d be facing up to a felony, although kids are often given diversion programs.

RELATED: Fact check: Marijuana tax claim a puff of smoke in Prop 205 ad Colorado leaders ask Arizonans to vote no on legalizing marijuana Arizona Supreme Court says legal marijuana measure on ballot Marijuana measure closer to reality

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