The campaign to legalize marijuana for recreational use submitted 258,582 signatures to secretary of state officials Thursday in an effort to qualify for Arizona's statewide November ballot.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol needs 150,642 valid signatures from registered voters to qualify, and they have likely submitted enough signatures to account for any that may be thrown out. The measure almost certainly will make the ballot, and the proposal is pitting powerful business and social interests against legalization supporters including medical marijuana dispensaries and marijuana users.
The pro-campaign staged a news conference Thursday, with about 100 boxes of the petitions serving as a backdrop. Supporters said regulation of marijuana sales by the state would be safer than the "underground" market supplied by drug cartels. It wouldn't lead to increased drug use by children and adults, they argued, or increased impaired driving. Legalization opponents disagree with both points.
"For me the issue is really safety," said Kathy Inman, executive director of MomForce AZ, which advocates for marijuana legalization. "Regulating marijuana is going to make Arizona a safer place for my daughters and my grandchildren. ... Regulating marijuana takes marijuana off the streets, puts it in a regulated market where it should be."