Peoria group hoping to overturn supervisors’ decision

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Eastern Arizona Courier Article by Brooke Curley

A Peoria group that is trying to get a marijuana tax initiative on the November 2022 ballot would also like to give voters the chance to reverse a Graham County zoning change that allows marijuana to be grown in Bonita.

For more than six months two companies lobbied the Graham County Board of Supervisors to change the county’s zoning rules so that NatureSweet could sell a couple of its tomato greenhouses in Bonita to Bayacan, which wanted to cultivate marijuana for either medical or recreational use. On June 21, the supervisors voted 2-1 to approve the change.

The Protect Graham County No to Drugs organization is now circulating a petition asking voters if they’d like to overturn the supervisors’ decision. If they obtain enough signatures, a referendum could be placed on the November 2022 ballot.

Hannah Duderstadt, Graham County election director, said the group has until Aug. 5 to collect 1,064 signatures.

“It doesn’t seem like we’ve had a referendum before,” she said. “It’s been quite a while, if we’ve ever done it.”

The same group is also circulating a petition seeking to place a tax initiative on the same ballot.

If 1,596 signatures are obtained and verified by July 2022, voters would be asked to approve a measure that would “amend the code of Graham County” to impose a $1,000 occupational permit fee to cultivate cannabis and $1,000 for every pound of cannabis or cannabis byproduct sold or transferred. Those who don’t pay the fees could have their permits revoked.

Heather Dukes, a Bayacan attorney, said the measure, if passed, would prevent any cannabis cultivation in the county.

On July 6, during an interview posted to the Graham County Chamber of Commerce’s Facebook page, Dukes told Vance Bryce, the chamber’s executive director, that a pound of cannabis is sold for $500-$1,800 per pound before taxes.

Bryce has spoken out against the initiative at council meetings and in radio ads, calling the proposed taxes “excessive.”


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