By: Mikel Weisser
Midterm Elections Are Over
Happy Turkey Month! You may simply be thankful that the political ad season is over, but this election brings lots of news to be thankful for.
At the federal level–
Three of AZ’s Congressional allies returned: Rep. Raul Grijalva, Rep. David Schweikert, and Rep. Ruben Gallego, the first to introduce legislation for full adult use in AZ. On the downside, F-rated Congressmen Paul Gosar and Andy Biggs were both reelected too.
In CD9, former Phoenix mayor Greg Stanton is a win. Stanton had pledged to meet with the AZ industry if elected. Returning Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick (CD2) is now an MMJ supporter, giving Arizona five potential allies in Congress.
A strong advocate of cannabis legalization in the U.S. House, Dana Rohrabacher (CA) lost his seat this month. But, on a positive note, both Pete Sessions (TX) and Bob Goodlatte (VA) lost their seats in the House too. Sessions, head of the House Rules Committee, and Goodlatte, head of the House Judiciary Committee, blocked marijuana reforms for several years. Since Democrats won control of the House, all Committee Chairs will be going to the other party. With pro-reform heads now on House committees, we expect major progress there. Last, but not least, in turkey news, our biggest federal obstacle, Attorney General Jeff Sessions (no relation to Pete Sessions from TX) has “resigned.”
Missouri and Utah both succeeded with their medical marijuana ballot measures and Michigan approved adult use. There are now 32 states with medical programs. Michigan, the 10th state to legalize, means now ¼ (25%) of the US population lives in a legal state.
Connecticut, Michigan, Minnesota, and Illinois elected governors who campaigned on legalization. California and Colorado elected governors that have already been part of their state’s legalization and New Mexico and Maine got rid of prohibitionist governors. Maine’s current governor, Paul LePage, has been blocking implementing the state’s MMJ initiative ever since the voters made it law in 2016.
ARIZONA STATE ELECTIONS
Two Dozen Pro-Cannabis Legislators Return
In the most exciting state elections in memory, more than twenty pro-reform legislators have won re-election. In the State Senate, expect reform bills from Senators Sonny Borrelli, Mendez, Rios, Quezada, and newly minted Senator Tony Navarrete.
In the House, look for legislative action from Republican representatives like Kevin Payne, David Stringer, Tony Rivero, and Ben Toma. Now that the House is divided 31-29, look for Democrats like Charlene Fernandez, Dr. Randy Friese, Pam Powers-Hannley, Diego Espinosa, and Caesar Chavez to file bills that should get some traction. Perhaps most exciting is the election of LD24’s Jennifer Longdon, the first state legislator to have worked in AZ’s cannabis industry.
Legislative Plans for Arizona’s 2019 Legislative Session
AZ-NORML will be pursuing bills with Republicans Sen Borrelli, Reps Payne, Rivero, Toma and Stringer. And Democrats Sen Mendez and Navarrete, and Reps Powers-Hannley, Friese, Engel, Espinosa, Salman, and Chavez.
Among the bill ideas expected to be discussed for the January 2019 legislative session, AZ-NORML will be working on decriminalizing and redefining cannabis to remove it from the list of Narcotic class four felonies. Other potential bills could replace the list of qualifying conditions with a CA-like doctor recommendation, reciprocity for out of state patients to use dispensaries, testing standards and independent testing licensing, extending cards to two years, and expanding types of medical staff who can certify patients.