Pubdate: Sun, 29 Mar 2015
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2015 The Arizona Republic
Author: Yvonne Wingett Sanchez


Supporters filed paperwork Friday to kick off what could be a second 
2016 ballot initiative that would allow Arizona adults to buy small 
amounts of marijuana for private use.

The group, Arizonans for Responsible Legalization, said it would not 
offer details of its plan until it unveils the initiative language. 
"Arizonans for Responsible Legalization is committed to common sense 
regulation of the marijuana industry and ensuring the greatest 
benefit to taxpayers," Gina Berman, an emergency room physician who 
will lead the effort, said a statement.

The initiative would seemingly rival that of the Marijuana Policy 
Project of Arizona, which last year said it would try to legalize 
marijuana for casual use in Arizona and several other states.

Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona is finalizing language for a 
ballot measure and has been working to build a broad coalition to 
support the effort, Ryan Hurley, treasurer of the Marijuana Policy 
Project of Arizona, recently said.

Language for the Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona's initiative may 
be finalized within a couple of weeks, Hurley said Friday.

The initiative might be modeled after the marijuana program in 
Colorado, which was approved by voters and allows adults 21 and older 
to use and possess up to an ounce of pot. The marijuana is purchased 
at marijuana shops allowed to operate under the law.

Supporters have said Arizona will not repeat Colorado's mistakes. The 
effort will be financially backed by the Washington, D.C.-based 
Marijuana Policy Project, which has successfully advocated for 
marijuana legalization and regulation in other states.

Meanwhile, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk has joined forces with 
anti-drug advocates to oppose the legalization of marijuana in 
Arizona. Their group, Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, will 
raise money to counter pro-pot political messages and raise awareness 
about the harmful effects of the drug.

Such marijuana use remains illegal under the federal Controlled 
Substances Act, but in 2013 the U.S. Department of Justice said it 
would allow laws regulating recreational use of marijuana.

Arizona is among a couple dozen states and the District of Columbia 
that allow marijuana use for medicinal or recreational reasons. 
Arizona voters approved the use of medicinal marijuana in 2010 for 
conditions such as chronic pain and cancer, but the program didn't 
gain momentum until last year, when dispensaries began to open.

About 65,000 people participate in the program, and the state 
Department of Health Services, which oversees the program, has 
limited the number of dispensaries to 126 statewide.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom