Arizona Capitol

Democrat Ruben Gallego Introduces Arizona Marijuana-Legalization Bill

As promised, Democratic Representative Ruben Gallego has submitted a bill that would legalize marijuana possession in Arizona.

Twelve other Democrats signed on to sponsor or co-sponsor the bill, House Bill 2558.

See also:
-Lawmakers Propose Changing Penalty for Pot Possession From Felony to Simple Fine
-Arizona Natural Selections: Inside a Medical Marijuana Cultivation Center

Gallego, an Iraq War veteran, has said the bill would "regulate and tax marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol."

His proposal doesn't include anything radically different from Colorado's marijuana-legalization law. Generally, the bill proposes allowing anyone over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of pot, as well as a few marijuana plants.

Minor violations of the law, including smoking in public, growing in public view, or being caught in possession while under the age of 21 would be civil violations punished by fines.

The bill also outlines various other regulations and taxes on commercial pot sales.

In addition to this bill, 13 Democratic lawmakers are also sponsoring a bill that would decriminalize marijuana possession, instead of a complete legalization, like offered in Gallego's bill.

Under House Bill 2474, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana would be more like a traffic ticket instead of a possible felony conviction that goes on someone's record for life. Most other possession crimes, including possessing multiple pounds of pot, would no longer be a felony.

Despite more than a dozen lawmakers sponsoring both of these bills, keep in mind that Republicans are the majority in both houses of the Legislature.

In addition to these bills, there's a grassroots effort to get marijuana legalization on 2014 ballots by collecting signatures, and a national group with more fundraising capability plans to make a similar initiative for 2016 ballots in Arizona.

Send feedback and tips to the author.
Follow Matthew Hendley on Twitter at @MatthewHendley.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley