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Arizona congressman calls for legalized marijuana in Arizona

(AP Photo/Brennan Linsley, file)

PHOENIX — An Arizona congressman called for the legalization of marijuana in his state on Monday, saying it would cause a drop in crime and provide economic benefits.

Rep. Ruben Gallego (D-Ariz.) is the first congressman to officially support the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, an effort to legalize, tax, and regulate the drug.

“The products will be tested, packaged and labeled, to insure the marijuana is not contaminated, and consumers know what they’re getting,” Gallego said.

Gallego said that, by legalizing marijuana, a dangerous underground market that holds an economic incentive for criminals would be eliminated and Arizona communities would thus be safer.

The ability to tax the drug would also provide a nice economic push.

“We’ve been talking about education and the lack of education funding,” Gallego said. “Our estimates say that this would add an extra $123 million just to education funding, per year.”

Gallego said legalizing pot for recreational use just makes sense overall.

“Marijuana is objectively less harmful than other regulated products,” he said. “When used properly by adults, it is less additive and less damaging to the body and does contribute less when it comes to violent and reckless behavior.”

Proponents have collected enough signatures to put the initiative on the ballot in November.

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