Arizona voters will almost certainly have the chance to end cannabis prohibition in the desert state this year.
The director of the Marijuana Policy Project announced this week the group had successfully completed a signature drive to place the proposal on the November ballot
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) has at least 150,642 valid signatures to qualify the initiative by July 7, said Rob Kampia, director of the national lobbying group, MPP, which sponsored the drive. Signature-gatherers obtained about 200,000 names and over $1 million in donations.
Under the proposed measure, adults 21 and over could possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis in public and grow six plants. The Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control would oversee licensing and regulation. Amid new Father’s Day advertising in support of the measure, Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Arizona) became the first congressman to endorse the bill.
“We will be far better off if we shift the production and sale of marijuana to taxpaying Arizona businesses that are subject to strict regulations. It will also allow the state to direct law enforcement resources toward reducing violence and other more serious crimes,” Gallego stated. “I am proud to support this initiative, as it represents a far more sensible approach to marijuana for our state.”
However, “[Arizona] is not exactly a slam dunk,” Kampia said this week.
Arizonans support legalization 50-43. Prohibition supporters Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy have raised $480,000, including contributions from alcohol and electrical companies, to defeat any recreational bill in Arizona.
A small faction of pro-marijuana forces have also promised to fight legalization alongside the law enforcement establishment.
Proponents of a competing initiative that failed to gather enough support say they object to the personal possession limits in the MPP initiative, as well as the law’s initial cap of 160 retail pot stores in Arizona. That number is one-tenth the number of liquor dealers in Arizona.
Medical marijuana dispensaries also get priority for recreational marijuana business licenses, critics complain.
Arizona is one of nearly a dozen states considering either adult-use legalization or medical legalization, either through an initiative process or the legislature in 2016.
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