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AZ Marijuana Initiative Backers to Encourage Business Leaders

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Prior to an annual Chamber of Commerce meeting on January 6, backers of a 2016 ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Arizona will encourage business leaders to consider the economic benefits of regulating and taxing marijuana in the state.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will hold a news conference at 10 a.m. MST outside the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry Legislative Luncheon in Phoenix (northeast corner of N. 3rd and E. Van Buren streets). Campaign leaders will have a sign and distribute handouts that invalidate opponents’ claims that regulating marijuana for adult use will be bad for business in Arizona.

“Regulating marijuana like alcohol would bolster our state’s economy with new tax revenue, new jobs, and new business opportunities,” said campaign chairman J.P. Holyoak. “Business leaders typically recognize the value of a legal and regulated alcohol market for adults. Our initiative would establish a similar system but for an objectively less harmful product.

“Since Colorado made marijuana legal for adults, its economy has improved dramatically and at a far greater rate than most other states,” Holyoak said. “Opponents of that law claimed it would be bad for business, and that claim has proven to be entirely unfounded.”

The following facts will be included in the handout distributed to attendees:

  • Adult marijuana sales during FY 2014-2015 generated nearly $80.5 million in state tax revenue, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue, and marijuana-specific taxes raised approximately $28 million more than alcohol-specific taxes.
  • As of June 2015, there were more than 21,000 Colorado residents with valid occupational licenses to work in marijuana-related businesses, according to the Colorado Department of Revenue. Marijuana businesses also retain workers and utilize services from a wide variety of collateral sectors, such as construction, engineering, security, legal, insurance, real estate, and retail.
  • The Forbes list of 190 “best places for business” included five Colorado cities in the top 50, including Denver at #1 and Fort Collins at #10. Two of the cities where marijuana cultivation and sales have been most prominent rose significantly in the ranking since 2011: Denver moved to from #9 to #1, and Boulder jumped from #44 to #26. (Phoenix, ranked #44, is the only Arizona city in the top 100; Tucson is ranked #103.)
  • Colorado had the fastest-growing state economy in 2014 and the #3 best state economy in the nation in 2015, according to Business Insider. Home prices also increased at some of the fastest rates in the country over the past two years.
  • Colorado tourism reached record highs in 2014, and tourism in the state is outpacing national growth rates in every tourism category, according to the Colorado Tourism Office.

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