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.”
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