Pubdate: Fri, 01 Jul 2016
Source: Arizona Republic (Phoenix, AZ)
Copyright: 2016 The Arizona Republic
Author: Yvonne Wingett Sanchez


The campaign to legalize marijuana for recreational use submitted 
258,582 signatures to secretary-of-state officials Thursday in an 
effort to qualify for Arizona's November ballot.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol needs 150,642 valid 
signatures from registered voters to qualify, and they have likely 
submitted enough signatures to account for any that may be thrown 
out. The measure almost certainly will make the ballot, and the 
proposal is pitting powerful business and social interests against 
legalization supporters, including medical-marijuana dispensaries and 
marijuana users.

The pro-legalization campaign staged a news conference Thursday, with 
about 100 boxes of the petitions serving as a backdrop. Supporters 
said regulation of marijuana sales by the state would be safer than 
the "underground" market supplied by drug cartels. It wouldn't lead 
to increased drug use by children or adults, they argued, or 
increased impaired driving. Legalization opponents disagree with both points.

"For me, the issue is really safety," said Kathy Inman, executive 
director of MomForce AZ, which advocates for marijuana legalization. 
"Regulating marijuana is going to make Arizona a safer place for my 
daughters and my grandchildren . ... Regulating marijuana takes 
marijuana off the streets, puts it in a regulated market where it should be."

The Secretary of State's Office has 20 business days to process the 
petitions and transmit a 5 percent random sample of the signatures to 
county election officials for review. County recorders then have 15 
days to verify the validity of signatures and send their findings to 
state election officials. The secretary of state will then have 72 
hours to determine the number of valid signatures and determine 
whether the initiative will appear on the ballot.

The proposition would ask Arizona voters to legalize marijuana for 
recreational use and establish a network of licensed cannabis shops 
that would tax sales of the drug, similar to the model established in Colorado.

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 were in a secure area.

In a written statement ripping the measure, Maricopa County Attorney 
Bill Montgomery warned that legalization could lead to increased 
impaired driving.

"The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act represents the very 
worst of special interests funding initiatives to promote their own 
goals," Montgomery said. "The people who will pay for their greed are 
the families who will lose loved ones to marijuana impaired drivers, 
teens who will suffer from the effects of high potency marijuana, and 
businesses who won't be able to maintain a quality workforce or 
discipline those who show up high on the job."

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.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom