Arizona Could Finally Legalize Medical Marijuana

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Green Arizona

If medical marijuana is legalized in Arizona, 66,000 people would register to be recipients of prescribed cannabis -- that's according to a legislative budget assessment of what the impact would be on the state should medical weed be legalized in Arizona.

Analysts predict that 39,600 people would register and that another 26,400 designated caregivers would bring the number of medical marijuana patients to 66,000 by the time the program is fully implemented in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Those numbers are based on estimates from a similar program that already exists in Colorado.

Voters in Arizona will again have a chance to legalize a medical marijuana program when it appears on the ballot in November.

The use of medical marijuana has been approved by Arizona voters twice in the last 15 years, but in each case, the wording of the measure prevented it from becoming law.

We spoke to AMMPP campaign manager Andrew Myers in April about past problems with the law, and he says they shouldn't be a problem this time around.

"We have the benefit of experience now," he says.

Some of the problems that Myers says are now ironed out are the issue of how to tax the marijuana, certain regulations that dictate where the weed can be smoked, and the number of marijuana dispensaries -- which, he says, are several of the problems facing California's medical-marijuana program.

"Right now, in Los Angeles, there are more marijuana dispensaries than there are Starbucks," Myers says.

Under the guidelines of the new initiative, the number of dispensaries would be limited to about 120 statewide, and smokers would only be allowed to smoke in a private place, not at the dispensaries.

"[Medical marijuana] is overwhelmingly supported in Arizona," Myers says. "In the past, voters have supported it, and polls show that about 65 percent of voters would support it this time."

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