Arizona is no closer to legalizing cannabis for recreational use than it was last November, when Proposition 205 was the only state legalization initiative to fail in the U.S. election.
In fact, new research suggests Arizona cannabis advocates may be even further from realizing their legalization dreams.
A poll conducted by OH Predictive Strategies found that just 35 percent of Arizonans would support recreational cannabis legalization if it were to make it onto the 2018 ballot. Of the 600 people polled, 48 percent said they were opposed to legalization, while the rest were undecided.
Morgan Fox of the Marijuana Policy Project said 2018 likely isn’t an ideal time for Arizona to take another stab at recreational legalization.
“The demographic groups that are least likely to support marijuana legalization ... are older Americans and people that are socially conservative,” he said.
“Those are groups that are much more heavily represented during midterm elections traditionally.
“Presidential elections bring out a lot of younger voters who are much more comfortable with the idea of regulating marijuana like alcohol.”
At least one advocacy group, however, isn’t daunted by these new figures.
Safer Arizona is determined to put recreational legalization before Arizona voters in 2018. The group is currently on the hunt for 150,642 valid signatures, which they need to collect by July 5 to qualify for the ballot.
David Wisniewski, the group’s executive director, isn’t convinced an off-year election spells doom for the state's legalization movement.
“That’s just a fake argument to discourage people from trying,” he said.
That said, Wisniewski admits: "at the rate we’re going, it doesn’t look like we’re going to hit our goal."
He isn’t throwing in the towel just yet, though.
“We’re not giving up,” he said. “And we’re going to collect to the very last day, as of now.”
Proposition 205 – or the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona – was defeated by a narrow margin of 80,000 votes last year. A lack of outreach to Arizona's rural areas, along with the efforts of several prominent adversaries of the initiative, have been blamed for its failure.