Phoenix Democrat and Assistant House Minority Leader Ruben Gallego announced his plan to introduce a marijuana legalization bill during the next legislative session.
Gallego stated he is working on a bill “that would regulate and tax marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.” He says the bill will allow anyone 21 years of age or older to possess up to one ounce of marijuana and have no more than five plants.
The bill would be similar to laws established in Colorado and Washington which have legalized marijuana for adult use.
A ban on smoking marijuana in public and regulations for the retail sale of marijuana will be proposed in the bill, along with an excise tax on sales, which will “distribute the tax proceeds to fund public education and treatment programs for alcohol and drug abuse, with half of the money going to the state general fund.”
Gallego recently stated that “The issue of marijuana regulation is pragmatic. Regulating marijuana takes sales off the street and puts them in a controlled environment. Ultimately, this will help law enforcement, especially in times when resources are limited. About 750,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related offenses in 2012, and the majority of those arrests were simply for possession. Law enforcement officers’ time and resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes, so that we are all safer. Additionally, we can use some of the money generated from the sales to pay for public education and treatment programs for alcohol and drug abuse.”
Safer Arizona is a group that is sponsoring an initiative to amend Arizona’s constitution to allow for legalized, taxed, and regulated Cannabis (marijuana and industrial hemp) use and commerce. The group needs to gather over 300,000 valid voters’ signatures by July 2014 to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.
The Marijuana Policy Project is also attempting to legalize marijuana in Arizona.