Pubdate: Fri, 15 Apr 2016
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2016 The Arizona Republic
Author: Yvonne Wingett Sanchez


The campaign to legalize marijuana for recreational use in Arizona 
has gathered more than 200,000 signatures in its effort to qualify 
for the November ballot, it reported Tuesday.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which has been 
pushing the effort for about a year, needs 150,642 signatures from 
registered voters to make the ballot. Some of the gathered signatures 
may be invalid because they were signed by people who cannot vote.

To account for invalid signatures, the group aims to collect about 
225,000 signatures, a spokesman said, and hopes to have a healthy 
cushion once the signatures are verified by the Secretary of State's 
Office. Barrett Marson, a campaign spokesman, could not say when 
those signatures would be filed with that office.

J.P. Holyoak, chairman of the campaign, said the signature count 
shows the level of public support to tax and regulate the drug.

"The policies of prohibition have been an abysmal failure," Holyoak 
said. "Legalization is inevitable. They're glad to sign on the bottom 
line to get this on the ballot."

Under the proposed Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act, adults 
21 and older could possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to 
six plants in their homes without obtaining licenses, as long as the 
plants are in a secure area.

It would also create a distribution system similar to Colorado's, 
where licensed businesses produce and sell marijuana.

The initiative also would create a Department of Marijuana Licenses 
and Control to regulate the "cultivation, manufacturing, testing, 
transportation, and sale of marijuana" and would give local 
governments the authority to regulate and ban marijuana stores. It 
also would establish a 15 percent tax on retail sales, with proceeds 
going to fund education, including full-day kindergarten and public health.

Under the 2016 Arizona initiative language, driving while impaired by 
marijuana would remain illegal, as would consuming marijuana in 
public and selling or giving the drug to anyone under 21.

Taxation of the program would pay the state's cost of implementing 
and enforcing the initiative. Forty percent of the taxes on marijuana 
would be directed to the Department of Education for construction, 
maintenance and operation costs, including salaries of K-12 teachers. 
Another 40 percent would be set aside for full-day kindergarten 
programs. And 20 percent would go to the state Department of Health 
Services for unspecified uses.

Revenue from the taxes could not flow into the state's general fund, 
which would allow it to be spent for other purposes.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom