PHOENIX, Ariz. (Nov. 9, 2016) – Voters in Arizona failed to approve a ballot measure legalizing marijuana for general use by adults.

Arizona Proposition 205 lost by a 52.1 to 47.9 percent margin.

Passage of Prop 205 would have made it legal for adults 21 years or older to possess and use one ounce or less of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes. Even with the defeat of the measure, Arizonans still have legal access to marijuana for medical use.

The federal Controlled Substances Act (CSA) passed in 1970 prohibits possession of marijuana for any reason. Of course, the federal government lacks any constitutional authority to ban or regulate marijuana within the borders of a state, despite the opinion of the politically connected lawyers on the Supreme Court. If you doubt this, ask yourself why it took a constitutional amendment to institute federal alcohol prohibition.

Legalization of marijuana for general use in Arizona would have removed another huge layer of laws prohibiting the possession and use of marijuana. even while federal prohibition remains on the books.

FBI statistics show that law enforcement makes approximately 99 of 100 marijuana arrests under state, not federal law. By ending state prohibition, Arizona could have essentially swept away most of the basis for 99 percent of marijuana arrests. With medical marijuana being legal in the state, some state and local enforcement is still removed.

Figures indicate it would take 40 percent of the DEA’s yearly-budget just to investigate and raid all of the dispensaries in Los Angeles – a single city in a single state. That doesn’t include the cost of prosecution. The lesson? The feds lack the resources to enforce marijuana prohibition without state assistance.


Arizona was one of eight states with measures on the ballot to to legalize marijuana for either for medical or general adult use Tuesday. This is the largest number of states that have considered nullifying marijuana prohibition in a single election cycle. Six passed and a legalization measure in Maine was narrowly ahead Tuesday morning.

The state sought to join a growing number that are simply ignoring federal prohibition, and nullifying it in practice. Colorado, Washington state, Oregon and Alaska have all legalized both recreational and medical marijuana, and more than two-dozen states now allow cannabis for medical use.

With more than half the country legalizing marijuana, the feds find themselves in a position where they simply can’t enforce prohibition any more.

The lesson here is pretty straight forward. When enough people say, ‘No!’ to the federal government, and enough states pass laws backing those people up, there’s not much the feds can do to shove their so-called laws, regulations or mandates down our throats.

Mike Maharrey

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