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Activists file initiative to legalize recreational pot in Az

The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project filed a ballot initiative Friday that would legalize recreational use of marijuana in Arizona and regulate and tax the drug like alcohol.

“I believe that the Arizona voters recognize that it’s time to try something different than prohibition,” said Ryan Hurley, an attorney for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a political committee backed by the Marijuana Policy Project that is behind the initiative.

According to a draft of the initiative provided by the Marijuana Policy Project, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act would allow those 21 and older to carry up to one ounce of marijuana for private use.

It would also establish a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate and tax marijuana sales.

After filing the application, marijuana policy activists will have until June 2016 to collect 150,642 signatures, 10 percent of all votes cast for governor at the last election.

Hurley said marijuana policy activists expect the tax on retail marijuana sales, which would be set at 15 percent, to bring in anywhere between $60 and $100 million in tax revenue each year.

He said the money will go toward regulation of marijuana sales. Any extra revenue will go to the Department of Education to fund all-day kindergarten programs and to the Department of Health Services for public health efforts, he added.

“It’s time to treat this like alcohol, and it’s time to tax and regulate and legalize it,” Hurley said.

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Mikel Weisser, political director for Safer Arizona, a group that works with the Marijuana Policy Project, said the legalization of marijuana would give people safer access to the drug.

“It’s actually going on all around us right now, but this black market is not being regulated, not being taxed,” he said. “We’re going to disincentivize the black market in marijuana by price, by legality and by access.”

Weisser said it’s more than an economic issue; it’s about social justice.

He said thousands of lives are ruined every year nationwide by marijuana arrests.

“That felony stays on your record, and it ruins people’s academic opportunities, military opportunities, and in looking for jobs,” Weisser said. “Across the board, they have to deal with that.”

Seth Leibsohn, chairman of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a political committee that opposes legalizing marijuana, said the costs would outweigh any benefits.

“We’re pretty full up with problems when it comes to what’s already legal,” he said.

Leibsohn said the tax revenue would have to go toward addressing the health problems marijuana’s legalization would cause.

He said many people disregard the dangers because they don’t realize marijuana is stronger than it was 15 years ago.

“When they talk about its harmlessness, they are literally talking about something that doesn’t exist anymore,” he said.

He said regulating marijuana like alcohol is doomed to fail, adding that his organization will launch a public awareness campaign about the dangers of legalizing the drug.

“I would ask you to look at the costs of alcohol,” Leibsohn said. “What we’ve done with alcohol has failed, and it doesn’t make sense to me that you would use a failed model for what you want to do.”

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2 comments on this story

Apr 30, 2015, 11:01 pm
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Those who argue against “big business” becoming involved in production and sale of marijuana have their heads in the sand! Big business is most certainly already involved and these are not nice people. They are responsible for between 80,000 and 150,000 deaths in Mexico’s drug war since 2006. To suggest that these deaths stop at Mexico’s northern border is naive. Drug cartels currently take in $64.34 billion from their sales to users in the United States, Mexico’s public safety secretary said. Genaro Garcia Luna cited the figure during a speech a week ago at the international forum organized in Ciudad Juarez by the OCDA, a federation of center-right parties in the Americas. The drugs that the – mainly Mexican – cartels smuggle into the United States include marijuana, cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and Ecstasy. Mexico produces substantial amounts of marijuana and crystal meth and smaller quantities of heroin. South America is the source of the cocaine that Mexican gangs smuggle into the United States. Does anyone else understand the amount of corruption that a 64 billion dollar a year “big business” can have on our elections and on our system of government? Do you realize that many of our elections are now controlled by PACs and that we as voters are not even allowed to know who contributed? How much influence would a 64 billion dollar per year industry with real interests in how our government works buy? As voters we cannot totally put the cartels out of business but we can deal a significant financial blow to them. Legal, regulated, marijuana retailers are having an effect. Recently it was reported in the Washington Post that the price of a kilo of marijuana from farmers there has dropped from $100 to below $25. Let’s get the cartels out of the marijuana business. Support local marijuana retailers that pay taxes, settle their disputes in our courts, do not sell other drugs, ask for ID, and do not sell to kids. This is the right thing to do for our communities and for our children. Legalize, tax, and regulate in Arizona in 2016.

“The Latin American drug cartels have stretched their tentacles much deeper into our lives than most people believe. It’s possible they are calling the shots at all levels of government.”

- William Colby, former CIA Director, 1995

Apr 23, 2015, 2:51 pm
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Weed can be used to treat Glaucoma.  It may help reverse the carcinogenic effects of tobacco and improve lung health.  It can help control epileptic seizures.  It also decreases the symptoms of a severe seizure disorder known as Dravet’s Syndrome.  A chemical found in marijuana stops cancer cells from spreading in the lab.  It may decrease anxiety.  THC may slow the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.  The drug eases the pain of multiple sclerosis.  Other types of muscle spasms could be helped too.  It lessens side effects from treating hepatitis C and increases treatment effectiveness.  California dispensaries have been the subject of federal raids   Marijuana treats inflammatory bowel diseases, including Crohn’s disease.  It relieves arthritis discomfort.
 It keeps you skinny and helps your metabolism. While not really a health benefit, marijuana spurs creativity in the brain. Pot soothes tremors for people with Parkinson’s disease.  Marijuana helps veterans suffering from PTSD.  Marijuana protects the brain after a stroke.  It might protect the brain from concussions and trauma.  It can help eliminate nightmares.  Weed reduces some of the awful pain and nausea from chemo, and stimulates appetite.  Marijuana can help people trying to cut back on drinking.
Marijuana is safer than alcohol. That’s not to say it’s completely risk free, but it’s much less addictive and doesn’t cause nearly as much physical damage.  Disorders like alcoholism involve disruptions in the endocannabinoid system. Because of that, some people think cannabis might help patients struggling with those disorders.  Read more at:


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The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act seeks to:

  • Allow adults 21 years of age and older to possess and privately consume up to an ounce of marijuana. Public consumption of marijuana would still be illegal.
  • Establish a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales to be allocated to regulation, education and public health.
  • Create a system in which licensed businesses can produce and sell marijuana.
  • Establish a Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control to regulate testing, cultivation, manufacturing, transportation and sale of marijuana.
  • Provide local governments with the authority to regulate marijuana businesses.

Source: Ballot initiative 100-word summary