State Capitol News
12:41 pm
Tue September 29, 2009

Marijuana initiative drive launched

Phoenix, AZ – A new petition drive has been launched to reduce the penalty for
having small amounts of marijuana to a fine.

Current state law makes possession of any amount of marijuana a
felony, which can bring a year or more in state prison. The
initiative launched by Dennis Bohlke would impose a fine of no
more than $300 on those with up to four ounces. And the maximum
penalty for anyone holding more than two pounds would be six
months in county jail. Bohlke, a 55-year-old software engineer,
said he has children ranging in age from 34 to 13.

"They're probably going to be involved with marijuana or have it
put in their life. And they're going to have to run a gamut of
felony convictions? And I'm going, this is just not right. Felony
laws are causing more damage than the actual drug that is being
out there."

This is the second petition drive to put a marijuana issue on the
2010 ballot. Another group wants to let doctors essentially
prescribe the drug for patients with certain conditions but keep
possession a felony for everyone else. Joe Yuhas, organizer of
that effort, said that is a better approach.

"Our measure is pretty straightforward. We're seeking the passage
of the initiative in order to meet the needs of patients."

Backers of both measures have until July 1 to get more than
153,000 valid signatures on petitions to put the measures before
voters next year.