Guest Editorial: Arizona Attorney Mark Brnovich Evolves on Marijuana

By Recker McDowell —

Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich has evolved when it comes to marijuana.

Technology start up ALTA is now part of Brnovich’s Fintech Sandbox program. The Arizona effort allows innovative companies to start operating and test out their business models as they gain state licenses.

ALTA’s innovation is that it offers digital payment solutions to medical marijuana dispensaries and legal cannabis businesses. Many of those businesses cannot get traditional bank accounts now because of federal laws that still make marijuana illegal.

ALTA is launching in Arizona where there is a $350 million cash economy for medical marijuana and legal cannabis. It hopes to take its technology and business model to other states.

Brnovich has also said he favors the Arizona Legislature legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Arizona is poised to join the growing number of U.S. states who have legalized cannabis. Brnovich wants the Legislature to take that leap before an expected legalization initiative in 2020.

Brnovich is smart enough to know public opinion and the wider culture have evolved on marijuana.

Public opinion polls show support for legalized marijuana growing. A new Marist Poll for NPR and PBS shows 63 percent of Americans support a national legalization of cannabis. Seventy-eight percent of voters under 45 back legal marijuana, according to the survey.

Public support of medical marijuana is even higher.

Brnovich has shown himself to be nimble during this tenure as Arizona Attorney General. That hasn’t always been a strong suit for other prosecutors. Brnovich is showing that again when it comes to marijuana.