Arizona Speaker of the House Russell “Rusty” Bowers made an unsuccessful push this year to establish a new regulatory body to oversee the state’s cannabis market, which is currently governed by the Department of Health Services.

Bowers, a Republican from Mesa, introduced House Bill 2828 Jan. 10 to create a new department to assume all “authority, powers, duties, and responsibilities of the Department of Health Services relating to the regulation of marijuana,” according to Phoenix New Times.

Bowers intended the legislation to take effect next year, the news outlet reported, but it missed a March 10 deadline for a first reading, which has blocked the bill from being assigned to a committee.

In addition, the last day for the Arizona House to consider any bill was Feb. 18, Phoenix New Times reported. The legislation would now require special permission from the Rules Committee in order to advance.

Bowers has been a vocal opponent of adult-use cannabis legalization, according to Phoenix New Times. He opposed Proposition 205, a failed 2016 ballot initiative that aimed to legalize adult-use cannabis, as well as Prop. 207, which passed in 2020 to legalize adult-use cannabis in the state.

Bowers also sponsored House Concurrent Resolution 2045, which aimed to reduce the potency of cannabis sold in Arizona, and he has sponsored and co-sponsored legislation to add warning labels to cannabis products regarding the health of pregnant women and their unborn babies.

While it is unclear why Bowers filed H.B. 2828 to transfer cannabis regulation away from the Department of Health Services, NORML Political Director Jon Udell and Arizona NORML Executive Director Mike Bobinette told Phoenix New Times that the move may stem from the perceived closeness between the department and Arizona’s cannabis industry.

However, Bowers’ proposal would have automatically transferred all Department of Health Services employees involved in cannabis regulation to the new department, rather than starting from scratch.

“I think it’s curious when you try to solve the supposed problem of industry capture by taking all the regulators and giving them a new title to a new department,” Udell told Phoenix New Times. “So far it does nothing and it leads consumers into thinking that something serious has changed.”