A citizen initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona is poised to appear on the November ballot after proponents turned in their petition Thursday with more than enough signatures to qualify.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) submitted 258,582 total signatures to the Arizona Secretary of State. 150,642 valid signatures of Arizona voters are needed to place the measure on the ballot. The secretary of state is expected to determine whether the initiative has qualified by late August.
"We are very encouraged by the strong levels of support and enthusiasm we found among voters during the petition drive," said CRMLA Chairman J.P. Holyoak. "Arizonans are ready to end the antiquated policy of marijuana prohibition and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. We look forward to continuing the public conversation about the initiative, and we think most will agree it is a sensible step forward for our state."
The proposed initiative would allow adults 21 and older to possess limited amounts of marijuana; establish a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol; and enact a 15 percent tax on retail marijuana sales, from which a majority of the revenue would be directed to Arizona schools and education programs.
Yesterday, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee released a report estimating that passage of the initiative will generate approximately $82 million in annual tax revenue, with more than $55 million dedicated to full-day kindergarten programs and general aid to K-12 schools. The full report is available at http://1.usa.gov/295dwQt.
"Our schools could certainly benefit from tens of millions of dollars in new revenue each year," said Kathy Inman, executive director of MomForce AZ and co-chair of Parents for Responsible Regulation, a group of Arizona parents concerned about the harms caused by marijuana prohibition, especially to teens. "The money for education is a huge bonus, but the real value of this initiative is in ending the many harms associated with prohibition.
"I support regulating marijuana because it will make Arizona a safer place for my daughter and my granddaughter," Inman said. "Marijuana should be produced and sold in tightly regulated businesses, not in a dangerous underground market."
To read full campaign details from the CRMLA, visit their site at www.regulatemarijuanainarizona.org