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Mohave County braces for local impact from California’s marijuana legalization

California could see a lot of green next year, as financial analysts expect recently-legalized recreational marijuana to bloom into a $5 billion-a-year business. But in the desert region of Mohave County, bordering California, that green is neither present, nor welcome.

According to financial analysis firm GreenWave Advisors, recreational marijuana could become a $5.1 billion cash crop in 2018, when the long-maligned drug is legalized on Jan. 1 under California Proposition 64, approved by voters last year. Mohave County Sheriff’s deputies, however, say that “wave” of green will stop at the Arizona border.

Local law enforcement agencies will wait to see what the future of California’s recreational marijuana industry holds for Arizona.

“The Mohave County Sheriff’s Office anticipates and expects the upcoming change to California’s laws regarding marijuana to impact not only Mohave County, but Arizona as well,” said Undersheriff Edward Trafecanty. “How severe the impact will be is yet to be seen. Our deputies will continue to proactively enforce Arizona law regarding possession, use and sales of marijuana.”

Possession of marijuana is permitted only with a prescription in Arizona, and users of the drug are allowed to possess as much as 2.5 ounces every 14 days, or grow as many as 12 plants. Under Arizona law, cannabis is a controlled substance, and possession of marijuana for sale or non-medical use is classified as a felony punishable by a maximum of two years in prison, with probation for first-time offenders and second-time non-violent offenders. Fines for possession of marijuana in Arizona can range from $750 to $150,000.

“Californians visiting Arizona and Lake Havasu should be aware that possession, use and sales of recreational marijuana is illegal,” Trafecanty said.

Further details about laws in reference to marijuana in Arizona can be found at www.azleg.gov.