Arizona's Week in Weed: Legalization Measure Hits Milestone, Bill Montgomery and Marijuana — WITH UPDATE

Arizona has marijuana on the brain — and no wonder: The state has one of the country's biggest medical-marijuana programs, it may approve an adult-use legalization initiative at the ballot in November, and it shares a border with one of the world's biggest producers of cannabis.

Here's a roundup of some of last week's biggest news stories related to cannabis and the Grand Canyon State:

* Pot-legalization initiative hits another milestone:

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona announced that it reached 200,000 signatures toward its goal. 

But it's not yet time for a smoke-break: The group will continue to gather signatures until it reaches 225,000, far more than the roughly 150,000 it needs to put the legalization measure on November's ballot. That'll give a good cushion in case Republican Secretary of State Michele Reagan starts tossing out tens of thousands of petitions for alleged problems after the July 7 turn-in date.

The measure makes it legal to possess up to an ounce of marijuana, five grams, or six live plants without penalty, and sets up a system of retail stores where adults 21 and older would buy cannabis products.

* Feds raid dozens of homes in Colorado for alleged marijuana violations:

Remember the sweet and cuddly U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency that earlier this month announced it would consider rescheduling marijuana from its current, absurd classification as a Schedule One drug? Yeah, well, last week the DEA was back to usual self with raids on dozens of homes and warehouses in Colorado for marijuana violations, causing pro-cannabis activists in Arizona and elsewhere to take huge notice.

In dramatic scenes that played out in numerous, quiet neighborhoods, cops and federal agents barged into homes and hauled people off in handcuffs. So much marijuana was confiscated that National Guard units were brought in to help. A National Guard truck was used to take away 300 plants found in one home.

What's going on, cannabis enthusiasts lamented on social media — didn't voters legalize marijuana in Colorado? The answer is that there are limits to the state's legalization program: 300 plants is far over the legal limit of six plants per person, with 12 maximum per household. Authorities claim that, in at least in some of the cases, suspects from Texas bought homes in Colorado for the purpose of growing marijuana that would be shipped out of state.

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.
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.
Contact: Ray Stern