Guest Editorial: Rural Town Council Says Nope To Dope

By Scottsdale Pinetop

Earlier today, Arizona officials certified the Nov. 3rd election results and confirmed Democratic President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. This is the second time in over seven decades that a Democrat will carry Arizona and caps a long, slow political transition that turned a traditionally Republican stronghold to a battleground swing state.

But this blue swing didn’t just stop at politicians. Thanks to Prop 207’s passage, recreational marijuana will soon be legal for adults 21 and older in Arizona. And while some cities and businesses are preparing for the change, many rural communities are still holding onto their deep red roots.

On Nov. 25, the Town of Pinetop-Lakeside unanimously accepted to pass an emergency declaration for an ordinance to ban retail sales, testing facilities and use of marijuana on any open space or public lands within the town’s limits. This came after a recommendation made by the city’s planning and zoning commission two weeks prior.

Pinetop-Lakeside will be the fourth Arizona town, following Sahuarita, Gilbert and Payson, to impose bans on aspects of future recreational marijuana legalization.

The ordinance has garnered negative responses from local residents saying it opposes the will of the voters, the ban is unenforceable and negates those who use marijuana for legitimate medical reasons.

According to Navajo County election results, 52% of voters opposed legalization while 48% of voters supported the proposition. Statewide, Prop. 207 passed by 60%.

Many Arizona towns and cities are at a crossroads with how to manage recreational marijuana in the coming months. The anti-marijuana naysayers will always be there. But their influence continues to get smaller and smaller as the number of marijuana patients and supporters continues to increase.

Marijuana, as an economic and regulated industry, is completely different than the archaic notions from the past. For many, marijuana has proven to be a viable option to reduce chronic pain and other conditions including anxiety, depression and sleep deprivation as well as enjoyable for recreational use with low addiction rates.

Elected officials, local governments and advocates across the political spectrum will have to look at their own attitudes and assumptions on marijuana as the state and dispensaries continue to move forward. Society has changed and so have voters.

It’s time to reflect that.