PHOENIX, AZ — A drive is underway in Arizona to try to gather enough signatures from registered voters to place a constitutional amendment on the 2014 Arizona ballot that would allow the legalization and regulation of the adult use of marijuana by adults 18 years of age or older.
Grassroots reform organization Safer Arizona filed the necessary paperwork Wednesday to start gathering the 259,213 signatures they need to put the issue of legalization on the 2014 ballot. They have through July 3, 2014 to gather the necessary signatures.
Safer Arizona says the proposal is based on revised versions of the ballot measures approved by Colorado and Washington state voters in 2012.
“The intent of the initiative is to legalize marijuana in Arizona and to treat it as we treat alcohol,” said Dennis Bohlke, of Safer Arizona.
Bohlke said the group has no major financial backing to fund signature gathering, and that the initiative campaign will be a grassroots effort relying on volunteers to collect signatures.
If successful, the ballot initiative would amend the state Constitution to allow people 18 and older to consume or possess limited amounts” of marijuana.
The initiative would allow state officials to license grow facilities, marijuana stores and other facilities. The state of Arizona would be entitled to collect a 15 percent excise tax on purchases as well as state and local sales taxes.
The proposal would also alter driving under the influence laws so that the mere presence of a metabolite of the drug in a motorist’s system is not, by itself, proof the person was legally impaired. Instead, it would be one piece of evidence that could be offered, but legally would be insufficient without a video of any field sobriety tests.
Under current precedence set by an Arizona appeals court earlier this year, marijuana users don’t need to be actually impaired to be successfully prosecuted for driving under the influence.
Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, who has long opposed marijuana while challenging the legality of state’s medical marijuana program, said legalizing marijuana “would run afoul of the same supremacy clause issues that Arizona’s medical-marijuana program faces.”
A state court judge has rejected that argument, but the ruling is being appealed.