The Downsides of AZ Cannabis Legalization: A Business Perspective

Cannabis dispensary business Arizona
Photo by David Wallace
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At the end of 2020, Arizona residents saw a significant change: the state finally voted to legalize recreational cannabis after nearly a decade of being medicinally legal only. While this legalization was exciting for many, the passing of Proposition 207 also brought about serious concern from others in the sunny Copper State. 

Today, we’re taking a look at the downsides of cannabis legalization in Arizona, specifically from a business perspective. According to the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, there are many reasons why the Arizona government shouldn’t have passed this bill. Let’s take a look.


  • At the end of 2020, Arizona legalized recreational cannabis. From a business perspective, this may not be a wholly positive decision. 
  • Legalized cannabis may result in increased workplace intoxication. 
  • The president of the AZ Chamber of Commerce and Industry believes this could significantly hurt the future of the Arizona workforce.
  • Recreational cannabis legalization may also result in increased DUIs and traffic accidents, as demonstrated in other legalized states. 
  • At-home cannabis cultivation may drive higher crime rates and problems with the housing industry in Arizona due to potential increased Cartel response. 
  • Cannabis use in younger generations may seriously impact brain development, making the Arizona Medical Association also oppose Prop 207.

The Negatives of Legalizing Cannabis in Arizona

When we talk about cannabis legalization, in general, we often only discuss the positive outcomes that a change like this can make. While this is reasonable, it isn’t fair to ignore the potential negatives that recreational marijuana can bring to a state. For those leaders in Arizona, making this switch is not only foreign, but it’s slightly scary: what’s going to happen to the business side of the state?

Glenn Hammer is the current president and CEO of the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry. He’s one of the few AZ leaders who are convinced that cannabis legalization is only going to negatively impact the state, the state’s revenue, and the state’s residents. His ideas are based on what other states have experienced through similar decisions, making it viable for people like Hammer to become concerned. 

Increased DUIs, Workplace Intoxication

One of Hammer’s and other business owners’ most significant concerns revolves around improper cannabis consumption. With the legalization of cannabis, the amount of workplace intoxication that employers may face is likely to increase.

Marijuana positivity rates in legal states
Chart by SAM

However, things get tricky here because many big businesses still have to comply with federal law, and federal law has not yet legalized cannabis use in any form. This creates a major barrier for companies like these, and Hammer worries about the repercussions on the industry:

“What will happen to Arizona’s economy when our employers can no longer find a qualified workplace?”

Along with the concern of positive workplace drug tests, people like Hammer are also gravely concerned with the amount of DUIs the state may see with this new legalization. In states like Washington, traffic-related incidents involving drivers under the influence of cannabis have nearly doubled since the state legalized recreational cannabis, demonstrating that this may be an issue for AZ, too. 

Potential Rise in Crime Rates

With Arizona’s proximity to the border and its on-going conflicts with the Mexican Cartel, the idea of at-home cultivation is worrying for some AZ residents. Growing cannabis at home requires you to keep the plants stored and locked somewhere out of the public eye, but this won’t stop people from breaking in. 

Hammer calls the HOA “powerless to protect your neighborhood” if cannabis is legalized. For those living in family-driven communities, this idea isn’t so comforting. This puts some Arizona realtors and other housing businesses in tough positions, currently wondering how this new decision will impact their companies’ futures, as well. 

The Unknown Health Effects on Youths

It’s common knowledge that the majority of cannabis consumers are under the age of 30. Unfortunately, the American Medical Association is seeing sharp increases in cannabis use in those young as 12 in states with legalized marijuana. While this isn’t directly business related, it does affect the state’s youth and its future. 

Many of those living in the Grand Canyon State want the younger generations to thrive in business and work ethic, but the effects of cannabis on the developing brain may significantly hinder that. Of course, this is on a case-by-case basis, but the data isn’t promising. 

Along with people like Glenn Hammer in the Arizona Chamber of Commerce, the Arizona Medical Association was (and still is) strongly opposed to the passing of Prop 207. 

So Much More

From the business side of things, legalizing recreational cannabis may not be the incredible decision that most Arizona residents are making it out to be. Just how there are positives to every side, there are also a handful of negatives that should not be ignored when talking about Arizona’s passing of Prop 207. 

Now, the only thing that’s left to do is wait and see how this change unfolds.