Pubdate: Fri, 04 Nov 2016
Source: Nogales International (AZ)
Copyright: 2016 Nogales International
Author: Kendal Blust


A ballot measure that would legalize recreational use of marijuana in
Arizona is receiving mixed reviews among Santa Cruz County residents.

Known as Proposition 205, the initiative would make it legal for
people 21 and older to use and possess up to an ounce of marijuana and
grow up to six plants in their homes.

The proposed plan would also establish a state regulatory department
and would levy a 15 percent tax on sales of the drug.

But with the general election just a week away, there is still a split
between supporters and opponents and many county voters are still on
the fence about making pot legal in Arizona.

Diana Corrales of Rio Rico said that while she strongly supports
medical marijuana for people like her friend who gets relief for
symptoms of multiple sclerosis, she is concerned about the effects of
legalization for the general public.

"I would be for it for those that actually do need it, but somehow I
feel that it's going to get abused at some point," she said, pointing
to people using drugs and getting behind the wheel as a major concern.

"We're going to have more zombie-like people out on the street," she
said, adding, "We could make recreational use legal if you use it in
your own home and then stay there."

Even so, she said, she's aware that like the prohibition of alcohol,
people use it anyway, and if it were legal the government makes the
bucks instead of the black market."

Corrales still doesn't know which side she'll land on when she votes
next week, she said.

Tax benefits

Among registered Arizona voters polled in mid-October, 8 percent
remained undecided, 42 percent opposed the measure and 50 percent were
in favor a legalizing marijuana for recreational use, according to
Arizona State University's Morrison Institute for Public Policy.

In Santa Cruz County, supporters of the measure said legalizing the
use and possession of marijuana would benefit people locally and
across the state through tax revenues. The proposal indicates that
money would be used for the state's marijuana regulatory organization
established under the bill. It would also be distributed to local
governments where marijuana is sold, to schools and the Arizona
Department of Health Services.

"Obviously bringing in tax revenue is a good thing. And you could
regulate it a little bit more than it is now," said Tubac resident
Andi Miritello, who said she has long known adults who use marijuana

Taxing and regulating the drug would "get it out of the shadows,"
allowing the government to better control the product and benefit
financially, she said.

Advocates also argued marijuana use and possession is a non-violent
crime that drains resources from more important issues.

"You reduce all that law enforcement time that's spent on minor crime,
and they can spend that time on something else," said Mary Lindley of
Tubac. She thinks people's fears about legalized marijuana leading to
more car accidents or being a gateway to other drugs are overblown.

"I think if you can have a couple drinks, then you can smoke a joint,"
she said.

County residents also said they support legalization because there are
too many people who face jail time or probation because they were
caught with marijuana.

"That's what I'm against," said Eliza Sneed, who sat under a tent
outside of the Starbucks on Mariposa Road in Nogales giving out phones
to low-income Nogalians through the Lifeline Assistance program. Her
co-workers Alyssa Mendivil and Victor Arceo said they are also Prop.
205 supporters.

While pot has a bad image, Arceo said, incarcerating people for
something that doesn't hurt others is a waste of public money. It
doesn't make sense to prohibit a more or less harmless drug like
marijuana while legally regulating alcohol, tobacco and prescription
drugs, he said.

"Opiates and anti-depressants are a major problem in Nogales.
Marijuana is a lot less dangerous," added Mendivil.

'Mixed feelings'

Marijuana use is already common and inevitable, so it makes more sense
to regulate and control the substance than continuing to prohibit it,
supporters suggested.

"People are going to keep on doing it either way, if it passes or
not," said Isaac Hidalgo of Rio Rico.

Another Rio Rican, Rico Quiroz, also had "very mixed feelings," but
said he wouldn't support the measure. Like Corrales, he said many
people benefit from medical use, but worries that legalization would
lead to more DUIs.

"Because unlike alcohol there's no test that law enforcement can do,"
he said, bringing up language in the bill that would prevent law
enforcement from using tests that show marijuana in a person's body as
the sole evidence to prosecute people suspected of being under the

He also worries that legalized pot would be easier for teens to get
ahold of, he said.

"It's just like a cigarette. You're not allowed to have a cigarette
until you're 18, but is it enforced? No," he said.

Others, like Maria Salazar, simply don't think people should be using
drugs for any purpose other than medical need.

"I know there's people that have cancer that use it, but most of the
people don't have cancer," the Rio Rico resident said.
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