State Capitol News
8:51 am
Wed September 11, 2013

AZ Ballot Measure In The Works For Recreational Marijuana Use

The group that pushed for a medical marijuana law in Arizona is now gearing up for a 2016 ballot measure to allow any adult to use the drug for recreational purposes. Arizona Public Radio's Howard Fischer reports.

In 2010, voters approved letting those with certain medical conditions and a doctor's recommendation use marijuana. But that was by the narrowest of margins. Despite that, Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project thinks Arizonans are ready to follow the lead of Colorado and Washington, which both allow individuals to purchase the drug for their own decidedly non-medical uses.

Tvert said there has been a major change in public attitudes in the last 3 years. But, there's something else: Timing. "It will be a presidential election year," Tvert said. "And we tend to see a much larger turnout, including a lot of young voters and others who tend to be supportive of ending marijuana prohibition."

Tvert said his group is also encouraged by the decision by the Department of Justice not to challenge the Colorado and Washington laws and instead leave the issue of recreational use to local control - as long as there are safeguards, like only selling to adults. Tvert said that's the plan for Arizona.

But Attorney General Tom Horne said that will not keep the drug out of the hands of teens. "Kids under 21 aren't supposed to drink alcohol either," Horne said. "You think that's effective?"

And Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery promised the 2016 measure will get opposition that never materialized in 2010.