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There has been a lot of debate back and forth over whether cannabis should be regulated like alcohol. Although some states are already regulating cannabis like alcohol, some people still believe it’s a bad idea. Parents in Arizona are worried that lagging and underdeveloped regulations in their state will allow teenagers to get access to medical marijuana before they are of legal age. The parents group is called Parents for Responsible Regulation (PRR) and they held a press conference today at 10 A.M. to highlight their concerns. A billboard in downtown Phoenix will be up through Father’s Day this Sunday, June 19th.

Arizona Cannabis Laws

Currently, medical cannabis is legal in Arizona, with the state allowing two and a half ounces of usable marijuana for a person with a license who has Alzheimer’s disease, Lou Gehrig’s disease, cachexia or wasting syndrome, cancer, chronic pain, Crohn’s disease, glaucoma, hepatitis C, HIV or AIDS, nausea, persistent muscle spasms, PTSD, or seizures. If a medial cannabis patient lives more than 25 miles from a state-license dispensary facility, up to 12 plants can be grown for personal use in an enclosed and locked facility. NORML estimates that Arizona has 73,573 adult medical cannabis patients and 125 minor patients.

Outside of medical cannabis patients, Arizona’s felony possession laws require up to 2 years in prison and a maximum fine of $150,000 for less than 2 pounds of cannabis. Sale of less than 2 pounds of cannabis is also a felony, carrying up to 3.75 years and a $150,000 fine. Manufacturing or cultivating the same will result in up to 2.5 years and an identical fine — also a felony.

Parents for Responsible Regulation

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Sonia Martinez, the co-chair of Parents for Responsible Regulation (PRR), is also an attorney in Gilbert, Arizona, and a past president of the Native American Bar Association of Arizona. Martinez has two children, and stated, “Marijuana prohibition has failed to keep marijuana out of the hands of teens…in a regulated system, checks for proof of age would be mandatory and strictly enforced.” Regulating marijuana just like alcohol is the only possible future that will allow adults to consume cannabis responsibly while keeping cannabis away from teens and children for their own safety. Ryan Tracy, a father to two young children and co-chair of PRR, stated that the marijuana industry in Arizona is “currently being relegated to criminal enterprises, oftentimes including cartels and gangs.” Tracy also noted that police could better spend their time than arresting legal, of-age cannabis consumption in a regulated system. PRR Co-chair Kathy Inman noted that alcohol and tobacco regulation has “dramatically reduced teen alcohol and tobacco use over the past decade. We would see similar success and fewer problems if we regulated marijuana in a similar fashion.” The group’s formation comes on the heels of one of the biggest illegal marijuana production rings that Arizona has ever seen – the grow was “disguised as a medical marijuana growing service” but did not pay taxes or fees, conduct background checks, or adhere to other medical cannabis laws in that state. Controversial Sheriff Joe Arpaio stated that the operation was “making millions of dollars”; five people were arrested by the Maricopa County police in the raid.

PRR’s Billboard for Cannabis Regulation

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At 10:00 A.M. mountain standard time today, Thursday June 16th, Parents for Responsible Regulation (PRR) will hold a press conference to unveil and advertise the existence of the billboard in support of regulating cannabis like alcohol. The billboard is a large image of a man hugging his teen son and saying, “Please, card my son. Regulate the sale of marijuana and help me keep it out of his hands.” The PRR’s website is also listed on the billboard, RegulationWorks.org. The website provides facts and figures, including information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s June 2016 report on teen marijuana use, and the suggestion that “all sales of marijuana will be subject to a 15% excise tax.”

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