21 Reasons AZFMR Supporters Should Vote for Marijuana Policy Project Initiative

Supporters of Arizonans for Mindful Regulation have fought the good fight, but chances look slim that their cannabis-legalization measure will make November's ballot.

Even if the group has gathered 100,000 signatures, it has to collect another 100,000 in five months to ensure a ballot spot.

The enthusiastic volunteers and their leader, Jason Medar, threaten to vote “no” on I-08, the legalization initiative backed by the national Marijuana Policy Project and local medical-marijuana dispensaries.

New Times isn't taking a position on which legalization initiative is better, or which one voters should choose if both initiatives happen to appear on the ballot. But if the only choice voters have this year to change marijuana laws is the MPP's Campaign to Regulate and Legalize Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona initiative, here are 21 reasons why AZFMR supporters should vote for it:

21. Arizona would overturn one of the country's worst anti-cannabis laws, in which the slightest speck of pot constitutes a Class 6 felony. AZFMR supporters are more likely than most to use, possess, and grow marijuana.

(Possession of up to an ounce of marijuana or five grams of concentrates for adults 21 and older would be legal under I-08, and a person would have to possess more than 2.5 ounces before it would be considered a serious crime. The proposed law also would allow adults 21 and older to grow up to six plants in their homes, with a maximum of 12 plants per household.

20. For amounts of less than five grams, the measure would override Arizona's draconian "narcotic" designation of cannabis concentrates like tincture, hash oil, shatter, and wax — products that, for non-medical-cardholders, now are considered a Class 4 felony. 

19. Ten people a day in metro Phoenix, including AZFMR supporters, would not be jailed and charged for simple cannabis possession.

18. Even Arizona cannabis consumers of modest means would no longer need to smoke the schwag still being imported by the ton from Mexico. 

17. Over time, it would eliminate the need for most medicinal users of cannabis to obtain a medical card, an annual process that requires several hours of time and about $300.

16. Under one provision of I-08, the state would be stopped from unjust child-protective actions against people for merely possessing or using cannabis.

15. Arizona could remain a national leader on at least one progressive issue.

14. If you want to really piss off Republicans and so-called conservatives who support prohibition, this is your chance.

13. With California and Nevada poised to make cannabis legal this year, failing to approve a legalization initiative in 2016 could leave Arizona surrounded by recreational-friendly states — which would not only look ass-backwards but would no doubt cause the state to lose hundreds of millions of dollars in commerce.

12. Even if some cities try to restrict home-growing, those restrictions would be a vast improvement over the current law, which makes any attempt to cultivate cannabis a felony.

11. AZFMR supporters succeeded in forcing the MPP to include cultivation rights in its initiative – and in November, they can reap the rewards of that effort. 

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Ray Stern has worked as a newspaper reporter in Arizona for more than two decades. He's won numerous awards for his reporting, including the Arizona Press Club's Don Bolles Award for Investigative Journalism.