#HCR2045 Limits #Marijuana Research, Adds #MMJ Sales Tax & Spends #MMJ Funds (video)

Marijuana plant

On the Floor of the House on Tuesday, Speaker Rusty Bowers, and Reps. Warren Petersen, Kelli Butler, Isela Blanc and I had a rousing debate over Bowers’ HCR2045.

You may remember that I mentioned this bill a few weeks ago in a blog post about Reefer Madness. HCR2045 has been amended. The worst part of it is gone, but it’s still bad.

HCR2045 is the bill in which Bowers wanted to artificially lower the amount of THC in products sold in Arizona to 2%. This is a politically motivated, artificial limit on a chemical compound found in a plant that has been used as an herbal remedy for CENTURIES and has never killed anyone. HCR2045 would destroy successful small businesses by eliminating their products from the market, hurt patients, cripple the medical marijuana program, and revive the black market.

During committee I asked Bowers how he derived at the 2% figure. He said that back in his day in the 1960-70s marijuana had a THC level of 1%. I am a contemporary of Speaker Bowers. Back in his day was back in my day, and I have no idea how he figured that out. (In my blog post I quipped that perhaps he was a chemistry major.) Anyway, the 2% THC level was taken out because he got such pushback from the parents who give high-dose THC to their children with severe autism and to other medical marijuana patients who use high-dose THC for pain, insomnia or cancer.

So, HCR2045 has been improved, but it is still bad. The bill allows some of the medical marijuana funds to be used for research on marijuana. This was enabled in the cannabis testing bill that we passed in 2019. I fully support using some of the medical marijuana funds for marijuana research. Arizona has had medical marijuana for 10 years, and we have never looked at our data. There are several medical marijuana research studies that have been published in peer reviewed journals, and it would be interesting to replicate some of those. The most important study that comes to mind is the 2014 Harvard study that showed states that had medical marijuana for five years or more saw a 25% decrease in opioid deaths. We should see if Arizona has seen a similar trend. There is also a study showing that prescription drug costs are lower for Medicare patients who live in states with medical marijuana because Grandma and Grandpa are switching to pot for ailments like pain, anxiety, cancer, insomnia, and indigestion.

Unfortunately, Bowers’ bill is not like Rep. Payne’s HB2784, which does not restrict marijuana research topics. Bowers’ HCR2045 limits the research to just two topics that the Speaker is interested in: marijuana and schizophrenia and marijuana and violent crime. (He read a now de-bunked book on the evils of marijuiana and wants to replicate those studies.) HCR2045 also doesn’t designate how much of the MMJ funds would be siphoned off for research, who will award and administer the research grants, and if the research would be of sufficient quality to be published in a peer reviewed journal. In contrast, HB2784 uses $5 million per year of the MMJ funds, grants are administered through the Arizona Bioscience Research Commission, and the bill language addresses the quality of research but not specific topics.

Lastly, HCR2045 creates a new sales tax classification for marijuana and sets the sales tax rate (TPT) at 5.4%. I think this is a thinly veiled tactic that hints at future sales tax raises just for marijuana.

We were supposed to vote on HCR2045 on Wednesday, but floor mysteriously ended early. If this bill gets out of the Legislature, it goes to the ballot– where it will be along side marijuana legalization.

Marijuana (cannabis) is a plant that has been used safely as an herbal remedy around the world for centuries and has never killed anyone.

You still have time to contact Legislators and express your opinion on RTS.