AzPHA is Not Taking a Position on Proposition 207 because of the Nuanced Public Health Risks and Benefits
AzPHA is neutral on Proposition 207 aka the Smart and Safe Arizona Act. It would legalize the possession and use of up to 1 ounce of marijuana (for people 21 and over) and set up licensed retail stores where up to 1 ounce of Cannabis can be sold to adults 21 and over. It would also offer expungement of some previous convictions for marijuana convictions. Here’s a link to the statutory language.
AzPHA has an existing Resolution regarding the legalization and retail sale of marijuana (it’s posted on our members only website) but the Resolution doesn’t specifically address the Initiative that will likely be before Arizona voters this fall.
There are public health risks and benefits with the Initiative. One public health risk is that it will likely increase access to marijuana for adolescents (it is clearly harmful to them). It will likely cause increases in ED visits from edible overdoses and may increase impaired driving and it’s consequences.
On the benefit side, everybody with convictions of less than an ounce can apply for expungement of their conviction, which will help their ability to make a living and improve the social determinants of health for themselves and their families.
Another big benefit is the criminal justice reform parts of the law. Adults will no longer be charged with nor convicted of possession of less than an ounce, with benefits to social determinants of health in my opinion (currently, possession of even very small amounts of marijuana are a Class 6 felony unless the person has an Arizona Medical Marijuana Certification).
Also, people of color are disproportionately charged with and convicted of marijuana possession even though they don’t disproportionately use the substance.
We had some interns do an analysis of the risks and benefits… here are their reports:
PUBLIC HEALTH ANALYSIS OF THE SMART AND SAFE ARIZONA INITIATIVE: APELDIN AGHASSI, ZOLA BAYARSAIKHAN, ERIN MARUSKA, EMILY WINTER
PUBLIC HEALTH ANALYSIS OF THE SMART AND SAFE ARIZONA INITIATIVE: KRISTINA FISH
THE SMART AND SAFE ARIZONA INITIATIVE- A NARRATIVE ON RECREATIONAL MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION FOR THE ARIZONA VOTER: ESTELA TORRES PURDUE UNIVERSITY
CRIMINAL JUSTICE REFORM AND THE SOCIAL DETERMINANTS OF HEALTH: ELIZABETH HARDESTY
In short, the AzPHA Board of Directors elected to not take a position on Proposition 207 because there are both clear public health benefits and risks.
We also encourage Arizona voters to read the reports from our interns and think through whether they believe the public health benefits of the criminal justice reform portions of the law as well as the increased funds that would become available for public purposes outweigh the public health risks from increased access to Cannabis.
We believe that individual voters should carefully examine those benefits and threats before deciding how to vote on Proposition 207.