Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Arizona Now Has Dueling Marijuana Legalization Campaigns

By David Downs
Wed, May 27, 2015 at 12:51 PM

California isn’t the only state where cannabis supporters are sabotaging one another’s legalization efforts.

Arizona now has two competing initiatives to legalize cannabis in 2016. The Washington DC-based Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is leading one effort while some newly minted medical cannabis dispensaries — which MPP helped legalize in 2010 — are running a competing initiative.

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Just like in California, the Arizona infighting threatens the prospects of legalization in 2016.

This week, medical dispensary operator Jason Medar of the “Campaign to Legalize and Regulate Marijuana” filed paperwork to begin gathering signatures for a legalization proposal that would go before voters in 2016, according to the Arizona Capitol Times. This effort comes a month after MPP’s “Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol” launched its own petition drive.

MPP and some medical dispensaries in Arizona bitterly parted ways in April over the issue of potential recreational competition.

There don't appear to be substantial differences between the MPP proposal and the dispensary proposal. Both give preferential treatment to existing dispensary operators. The MPP proposal allows for home growing of six plants while Medar's proposal allows for twelve plants. The two also differ slightly over penalties for possessing more than the personal amount allowed by law. In one written comparison, Medar's proposal appears to be looser than MPP's initiative.

Carlos Alfaro, Arizona political director of the Marijuana Policy Project, told reporters the MPP’s initiative is more viable. Medar meanwhile told reporters that voters would be better off without legalization than it would be with the competing initiative.

Medical marijuana in Arizona just barely passed in 2010 by 4,341 votes out of nearly 1.7 million votes cast.

Do you think voters are going to be turned off by this friendly fire, or is it just a sign of a vivacious public debate? We'll take your answers in the comments.

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