Pubdate: Thu, 17 Dec 2015
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2015 The Arizona Republic
Author: EJ Montini


Arizona is125,000 signatures closer to legalizing marijuana. It's 
going to happen. While the rest of us have concerned ourselves with 
presidential politics and terrorism (which sometimes seem 
indistinguishable) the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in 
Arizona has quietly collected more than 125,000 initiative 
signatures, well on its way to getting the needed 150,000 valid 
signatures by July 7.

"This is going even more quickly than we thought it would go," deputy 
campaign manager Carlos Alfaro told me. "We're looking forward to 
getting the signature process finished and get the campaign out there."

Early indications are that the opposition has one argument: fear.

"That's it," Alfaro said. "All they have is scare tactics. Their 
biggest strategy is to make people afraid. What they have to work 
with is fear and misinformation. We can quote numbers that marijuana 
is less dangerous than alcohol. We have the numbers to back up the 
idea that regulating marijuana and taxing it is a better way to go, a 
much better alternative."

The law, which would be called the Regulation and Taxation of 
Marijuana Act, allows individuals over 21 to possess an ounce of 
marijuana and grow small amounts. It couldn't be consumed outside. 
There would be a 15 percent sales tax (which is estimated to bring as 
much as $40 million to the state's education system.)

The law would establish a Department of Marijuana Licenses and 
Control that would be responsible for regulating everything from 
cultivation to sale. Local government also would have some authority. 
The effort in Arizona is backed by the well-funded, wellorganized 
national Marijuana Policy Project. A Rocky Mountain Poll last summer 
found that 53 percent of Arizonans back legalizing marijuana for 
adults, with 39 percent opposed.

A well-funded fear campaign could cut into those numbers. It might 
even beat it at the polls. But not for long.

Acceptance of marijuana is spreading faster than the weed itself. The 
argument isn't going to be won or lost with glitzy campaign 
commercials but simply by the passage of time. We might as well get 
on it with it.

Like the acceptance of same-sex marriage, legalizing marijuana is an 
argument that's already been decided by a younger generation. The 
opponents have lost. "The last Gallup poll showed that a lot of 
younger people who have moved into voting age are pushing the 
positive numbers," Alfaro told me. "But they also found that a lot of 
older people are giving this a second look. People reevaluate things. 
Just about everybody now knows someone who is benefiting from 
marijuana, in medical way, and that takes a lot of the old stigma away.

"It's going to be weird 20 or 30 years from now, when the whole 
country goes this way. The numbers are there. What's happening now is 
unproductive, inefficient and wasteful and the parallels with alcohol 
prohibition are there, so I think it's true. We're going to wonder 
what took us so long." 
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom