Roy DuPrez owns Back2Basics Outdoor Adventures in Flagstaff. The company’s primary focus is helping individuals live meaningful lives free from alcohol and drug addictions. Yet, like 60% of the state’s residents, DuPrez voted for Proposition 207, the measure that legalizes recreational marijuana in Arizona.
He uses cannabidiol medicinally for inflammation and sports injury pain. Also known as CBD, the cannabis product lacks THC and does not cause a high. DuPrez has been impressed by the many medical uses of CBD and supports the business side of additional cultivation opportunities.
The potential revenue boost also influenced DuPrez’s vote in favor of the proposition. “Like the Arizona Lottery, which was sold as a way to add money to schools and increase taxes, Prop 207 has a lot of potential, as long as it doesn’t hurt people for whom it was not intended.”
Paul Deasy also supported the recreational marijuana measure, yet has some concerns, too, as Flagstaff’s mayor-elect. “It is going to change a lot with how our city operates,” said Deasy. “We need to be mindful of the effects on public health and enforcement of DWI.”
From a business standpoint, Deasy welcomes the increased revenues from people buying marijuana legally, expansion of brick-and-mortar operations, and the budding cultivation industry.
A study analyzing revenues for Pueblo County, Colorado, predicts a net economic benefit of $100 million for 2021 and each subsequent year, said Jared Moffat of the Marijuana Policy Project. Coconino County has 25,000 fewer residents than Pueblo, but the research could provide valuable comparisons. “Prop 207 will generate revenue to help communities, create sensible restrictions on consumption in public and the workplace, and also provide new opportunities for local business,” Moffat added.
Chad Campbell, who chaired the organization that funded Yes on Prop 207: Smart and Safe Arizona, cites a study saying in a couple of years, Arizona’s annual revenues from recreational marijuana should reach $300 million.
In Coconino County, 65% of residents approved Proposition 207; it will allow people 21 and older to possess, consume and grow limited amounts of marijuana. Smoking in public will not be allowed, but people serving time for marijuana offenses may have their records and sentences expunged.
Leading up to the election, one of the more widely talked about selling points of Prop 207 was the 16% excise tax. The measure’s verbiage says the monies will fund law enforcement, infrastructure, public health programs and community colleges.
Leaders at Prescott’s Yavapai Community College told Flagstaff Business News that the additional funds are expected to be only a small percentage of the college’s overall budget. Through an email statement they added, “regardless of the funding, the college will continue to educate students on the dangers of drug use and its short- and long-term effects on users.”
Business owners also have a lot to be concerned about, said Lisa James, who opposed the measure as chair of Arizonans for Health and Public Safety. “Employers are only allowed to prohibit use at the workplace, not before and after,” she said. “Businesses who require drivers will have to face more impaired drivers on the road,” said James, addressing the increased liabilities.
In terms of suggestions for business owners, James believes changes may be needed for workman’s compensation as well as hiring and firing protocols. Additional resources for substance abuse prevention and treatment also should be considered.
These are just some of the scenarios Eric Granillo is contemplating. As the owner of two Northern Arizona businesses, including CM Wireless and Electronics, LLC., Granillo employs drivers who serve large swaths of the state. “Already it is difficult to hire CDL drivers, and it could be more challenging to know who is using it if it’s legal,” said Granillo, who carefully vets his employees and invests a lot in their training. He may require drug testing in the future.
Like Deasy in Flagstaff, Granillo also is a newly elected public servant. As a member of Chino Valley’s Town Council, he joins elected officials throughout the state in watching the Arizona Department of Health Services. The agency will oversee adoption of marijuana parameters, from issuing licenses to regulating cultivation, production and sales. Current owners of Arizona medical dispensaries will be among the first for-profit marijuana licensees. DHS has until May 2021 to complete the new regulations.
Arizona, Montana, New Jersey and South Dakota each passed measures this year, bringing the total to 15 states with legalized recreational marijuana, and 20 other states have laws allowing the use of medical marijuana. FBN
By Theresa Bierer, FBN