Protesters Demand Legal Marijuana at Arizona State Capitol Building

Protesters Demand Legal Marijuana at Arizona State Capitol Building

More than 120 people gathered outside the Arizona State Capitol building Monday, the first day of the 2015 legislative session, for a peaceful pro-marijuana demonstration to protest the current cannabis laws and call for legalization. The rally, organized by Safer Arizona, was one of many scheduled for the first day of the 2015 sessions around the nation.

Dennis Bohlke, founder of Safer Arizona told 12 News that this rally will occur on the first day of the session every year until cannabis policies are reformed in the Grand Canyon State. Bohlke elaborated,

“This is our one event that we think everybody should show up at that wants to see any efforts at all.”

pro marijuana protest arizona

Some protesters wore green shirts with white letters that spelled “END CANNABIS PROHIBITION” when they stood in a line, as shown in photo at the top of this page. Signs held read, “Free the leaf,” “Marijuana is safer than alcohol,” and “The war on drugs is a war on U$.” Topics discusses among participants included the negative domino-effect caused by current marijuana arrest charges, and the importance of American war veterans being able to have safe access to the plant to treat symptoms of PTSD and other conditions.

Sarah Saucedo, president of Students for Sensible Drug Policy at Arizona State University reported to 12 News that the war on marijuana has failed, as she pointed out,

“In our eyes, as students, if I got caught with something like marijuana, there goes my scholarships, my financial aid and any chance of ever basically going back to school. And I get a fat felony on my record. It doesn’t seem like the crime fits the punishment.”

Robert Clark, co-chair of Safer Arizona shared that “recreational marijuana use should be allowed in private settings.” To which he added,

“What we’re trying to do is let our legislators know that we’re tired of prohibition. We want them to reform the cannabis laws and stop arresting nonviolent citizens.”

This session, the legislature will have the opportunity to hear HB 2007, the full marijuana legalization and taxation bill that has already been filed by Rep. Mark Cardenas (D-Phoenix). It is not clear yet whether the bill will even receive a hearing. If HB 2007 is not heard in 2015, voters will more than likely have the opportunity to approve a legalization amendment in 2016.

An initiative to legalize industrial hemp cultivation will also be filed for the 2015 session, but the non-psychoactive brother to marijuana is more likely to receive support from lawmakers.


Photo credit: Sarah Jarvis

A Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Has Been Filed in Arizona

A Bill to Legalize Recreational Marijuana Has Been Filed in Arizona

Two days before the end of 2014, a bill was filed with the Arizona state legislature that would legalize the recreational use and retail sale of marijuana in the copper state. The amendment titled “Marijuana; regulation; taxation,” also know as HB 2007, has already been filed by Rep Mark Cardenas (D-Phoenix).

bill filed to legalize marijuana arizona

Although the bill is ready and waiting, it is unlikely that it will make it far. This measure will most likely be appointed to the House Judiciary Committee, and the chairman, Rep. Eddie Farnsowth, does not support legalization. For this reason, it is doubtful the measure will make it to the legislature floor for a hearing.

Representative Cardenas, an Iraq War veteran, reported that he believes it would be smarter to introduce this bill in the 2015 legislature, rather than wait for a voter approved initiative to pass in 2016. In the state of Arizona, if marijuana is legalized by voters, it will be difficult for the lawmakers to edit that law. Any changes to a law passed by voter majority would require a two-third approval vote by legislators. Rep. Ethan Orr, (R-D9), publicly stated in October 2014 that he wanted to lead his fellow lawmakers in a legalization discussion for the same reason.

Cardenas told Capitol Media Services that he was also against legalization until he attended a Drugs and Justice course at Arizona State University. Through that class he learned facts about the war on drugs in the United States, and realized that it has done more harm than good.

Under HB 2007, all adults over the age of 21 would be able to possess up to 1 ounce of usable marijuana. Of age adults would also be permitted to cultivate up to 5 plants in a private, secure location away from any under age person. This measure also allows for the licensing and operation of cannabis cultivators and retailers. A $50 tax would be attached to each ounce sold at a dispensary.

Of the tax imposed on each ounce, 50 percent would be allocated to the state general fund, 30 percent would go to education, and the remaining balance would be distributed to the Department of Health Services.

It will be a surprise if HB 2007 is approved by the Arizona state legislature, but it is bringing the issue to the forefront. None of the legalization measures that have passed in the United States have been passed by legislators. Each measure, so far, has been passed by a voter approved initiative.


photo credit: Azcentral

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