The Safer Arizona Cannabis Legalization Political Action Committee held a march in Phoenix on Saturday, joining groups around the country as part of the Million Marijuana March.
The Arizona group’s mission: to legalize, decriminalize and repeal prohibition of cannabis in Arizona for recreational use for those age 21 and older.
“In our view, it’s unjust, immoral and unethical that anybody goes to prison for a plant,” said Alex Gentry, chairman of the Safer Arizona Cannabis Legalization Political Action Committee.
The committee has filed paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office to begin collecting signatures to get on the November 2018 ballot. It would need to collect 156,042 signatures from valid Arizona voters by July 5, 2018, to qualify.
The Safer Arizona Legalization Act proposes to legalize “the possession, consumption, cultivation and sales of cannabis for adults” at least 21 years old, decriminalize cannabis-related offenses and replace prison sentences with fines and misdemeanors.
it also proposes a tax on cannabis that would go toward education.
If it passes, the act would also provide “post-conviction relief” for those with prior offenses related to marijuana. Patricia Pantel, with Safer Arizona, said that is a key characteristic of the proposal.
“Nobody should go to jail for this plant,” she said. “This plant has so many uses and it helps so many people.”
Arizona voters in 2016 narrowly voted down a similar proposal to legalize recreational marijuana. The proposal was strongly opposed by state public-safety and business leaders.
Seth Leibsohn, chairman for Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, and Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk wrote in a letter to The Arizona Republic prior to that election that the proposal would significantly increase Arizona’s drug-treatment costs, lead to more traffic fatalities and workplace accidents and harm “young brains.”
“This law would contribute nothing positive to Arizona. Instead it exacts a tremendous cost, all to benefit a handful of marijuana-industry insiders. Arizonans do not need this and will not be able to afford it. The price is too high,” they wrote.
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