Cannabis Reform & Tax Cuts: Highs & Lows in #AZLeg (video)

Reefer Madness poster

Feb. 20 was another very long Thursday with the House Health and Human Services Committee starting at 8 a.m. and ending at 6:30 p.m., with no lunch and a few hours in between for floor action and introductions. Thank goodness I had time to eat a yogurt cup and apple slices that were in my refrigerator. I had other food, but I never had time to sit down and eat it. (Thank goodness I ate a hearty breakfast.)

Thursday’s low point was in the afternoon when the Republicans passed more than $300 million in tax giveaways in two bills. There are more than a dozen additional tax breaks in the House queue, alone. What the Republicans are doing with these tax giveaways is so incredibly irresponsible… but I digress.

Anyway, today’s video is about the high point of the day (no pun intended) when four marijuana bills passed the health committee, including my bill HB 2840, giving medical marijuana patients the choice between electronic medical marijuana cards and physical cards.

Three of the four bills are good. Speaker Bowers’ HCR 2045 is full-on Reefer Madness. He got a huge backlash in committee, mostly from parents who are giving autistic and epileptic children high-dose THC to help them with seizures and impulse control issues.

His bill is a ballot referral, which would dictate the maximum dose of THC in cannabis products sold in Arizona to be 2%. I asked him how he determined this 2% figure. He said that the marijuana that was smoked when he was in his youth (in the 1960s-70s) was only 1% THC, so of course, he believes that in 2020 marijuana should be only 2% THC. (In the spirit of full disclosure, Speaker Bowers and I are contemporaries. Was he a chemistry major? How did you know that the pot from 1970 was 1% THC?) This is just an arbitrary figure that’s designed to take down the medical marijuana industry and confuse the voters. Many of medical marijuana products that provide relief for autism, cancer-related side effects, and post traumatic injury have more than 2% THC.

HCR2045 is rooted indeology– not science. It puts up unnecessary barriers to legal use of marijuana. Passage of HCR2045 at the ballot box would fuel the black market. Is that what we want? I believe in patient choice and voter choice– not government overreach. The medical marijuana program was created by the voters 10 years ago. If marijuana helps people with their medical conditions, the government should get out of the way. 

In my vote explanation, I reminded everyone that cannabis is a medicinal plant that has been used safely for centuries around the world and has never killed anyone. Even Dr. Cara Crist, director of the Arizona Department of Health Services, release a statement a few years ago that there is no evidence in the state of Arizona that anyone has ever died from marijuana. Let’s drop the Reefer Madness claims and embrace patient choice and nature’s medicine.

If you are on RTS, HCR2045 is a “no”. HB2840 and HB2049 are good. HB2784, which funds medical marijuana research in Arizona, needs some tweaks to make sure we are conducting quality research studies that will further science and not just spend down the MMJ funds.

Stay vigilant! There will be many votes in the coming week.

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