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Advocates file ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in Arizona

PHOENIX – Marijuana legalization advocates moved Friday to get the issue before Arizona voters in 2020.

Smart & Safe Arizona filed a 16-page initiative with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office to make it legal for adults at least 21 years old to consume the drug and possess up to 1 ounce.

Marijuana is currently legal in the state only for medical use with a prescription.

Organizers say they plan to start circulating petitions around Labor Day.

They’ll need to gather 240,000 valid signatures to get the measure on the ballot in November 2020.

The initiative would generate $300 million to fund community colleges, public safety, public health and infrastructure through a 16% excise tax, according to a Smart & Safe Arizona press release.

The proposal includes provisions preventing marijuana from being smoked in restaurants and open spaces like parks and sidewalks.

The sale of gummy cannabis edibles that resemble candy would be banned under the initiative.

A group with a stated mission of raising “awareness about the harms of marijuana and other substances” issued a press release opposing the initiative.

“Legalizing marijuana is neither smart nor safe,” Sheila Polk, chair of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, said in the release.

“Just as they did in 2016, Arizonans should reject this risky gamble with public health and safety.”

The 2016 marijuana initiative was voted down by a margin of 51.3% to 48.7%.

In 2018, a group called Safer Arizona tried getting the legalization question on the ballot but only collected about half the necessary signatures.

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