TUCSON, Ariz. — In the November election, Proposition 203 passed in Arizona by about 4,000 votes, legalizing medical marijuana here. Now people who are ill and meet the qualifications are allowed to purchase it from dispensaries in the state who obtain licenses to grow it.
With recent election results producing a controversial republican governor in Jan Brewer, some Tucsonans weighed in on why they think such a liberal proposition passed.
Lucas Baer, 26, who said he was “completely for” the proposition passing, believes that the people of Arizona still have the Wild West mentality. Baer, who is starting up his own business and is originally from Minnesota, has noticed that in Arizona, with its “open, adventurous landscape,” people are not quick to give up their individual liberties. Baer believes that Arizonans vote conservatively for officials, but when it comes to someone telling them what they can and cannot do they won’t stand for it.
“My old boss used to carry a gun on his hip,” Baer said, “and it was totally legal.” In this case, though, he tends to agree that marijuana’s bad image is “not necessarily justified,” and that it could potentially have some healing benefits.
Justin Freitag, 43, a school guidance counselor, also supported the proposition. In his opinion, the government “needs to legalize marijuana to gain control over the drug market.” If marijuana is legal, then it can be taxed, which would make the government money. Freitag believes that Pima County, of which Tucson is a part, is the only liberal county in Arizona. The rest of the counties, including Maricopa County where Phoenix rests, are conservative. He believes the other counties stack up this way because there are a lot of religious Christians and Mormons living there, and they tend to vote conservatively. He also believes that because the University of Arizona, with its hugely diverse population of students, is in Tucson, it also accounts for the more liberal voting in Pima County. Freitag, although he is in favor of Proposition 203, doesn’t think it will ever actually be implemented. He thinks it will be blocked with too much red tape. “Arizona is a very strange place,” he says.
“It’s just weird. Arizona is a contradiction. Technologically, it’s progressive. A lot of people have moved out here, yet education is horrible and we are a conservative red state.”
While some, like Baer and Freitag have formed pretty strong opinions about the subject, other Arizonans remain more neutral. Mr. Warren, a middle school science teacher, is undecided whether or not he is in favor of medical marijuana. Although he is not really sure why it passed, he believes that “everything boils down to money.” He is not entirely convinced that marijuana is a bad substance, because he believes that any plant could have medicinal purposes because of it. The makeup and photosynthesis of plants ensure that they have a lot of nutritional value. He is also not yet entirely convinced that marijuana, in any form but the plant form, has any medical benefits. He also thinks that there is no way to regulate between personal and medicinal use of marijuana. Even with the passing of Proposition 203, Warren is still not concerned either way. He says he has bigger things to worry about than medical marijuana.
Others, like Jessica Clines, 30, of Phoenix are very against it. Clines, a Mormon stay-at-home mother of two, believes the proposition passed because people were “voting based on what’s accepted and what feels good rather than what is actually the most beneficial for society as a whole.”
In her opinion, legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes puts the state that much closer to legalizing it completely.
“Young people engage in risky behavior enough without being encouraged to do so,” Clines said. She believes Arizona youths would abuse marijuana if it were legal, as they do now with alcohol. Clines thinks complete legalization of marijuana would be “detrimental” to the state.
But enough Arizonans came out in favor of medical marijuana to get it legalized. Medical marijuana will be legal to grow and purchase within the borders of the state by 2011. Only time will tell how Arizona is able to regulate this new process, and if it will help or hurt the state’s dwindling economy.