People from the Phoenix chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) are going to try to force a recall of Republican Senator Kimberly Yee.
Yee, who's been one of the biggest opponents of Arizona's voter-approved medical-marijuana law, is being targeted after blocking funding of a study of marijuana as a treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder among military veterans.
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The group trying to recall Yee is calling itself the Arizona Veterans Assistance Committee. Paperwork filed with the Secretary of State's office lists "marijuana attorney" Thomas W. Dean as the applicant, and former Libertarian candidate for U.S. Senate Marc Victor as the chairman.
They'll need to collect 18,297 signatures from Legislative District 20 by August 2. The district is mostly in north Phoenix, but also contains parts of Glendale.
Yee won reelection in 2012 with 51 percent of the vote (second place was around 37 percent). For the sake of comparison, Russell Pearce won reelection in 2010 with more than 56 percent of the vote, before being recalled the following year.
Even if the group did get enough signatures, Yee is still up for reelection this year anyway.
The recall statement calls Yee's blocking of the bill a "callous abuse of power."
The proposed study at the University of Arizona, which received rare federal approval, would have used funds raised by the sale of medical-marijuana cards for partial funding, under the bill Yee blocked.
The bill had passed the House on a 52-5 vote. NORML supporters rallied at the capitol on Wednesday in support of the bill, and against Yee, who prevented the bill from being heard in a committee she chairs.
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UPDATE April 8: Yee's response:
"It is unfortunate that the supporters of HB 2333 have decided to distort the intent of the bill and the reason I did not hear this bill in the Senate Education Committee. I am not opposed to university research to assist veterans. In fact, last year I was the lead sponsor of the legislation that even allowed for such research to occur at the University of Arizona, working with veterans and researchers around the table to make sure that bill passed.
Because of my concerns about limited state funds, I received assurances from those supporting such research that funds would come from the federal government or private donations and that no state money would be used. Today, they have turned their story around and have broken their promise. My voting record shows I support veterans and research. This is about how we should use limited state resources and be wise stewards of our taxpayer dollars.
As policymakers, we have to ask if this takes us down the path of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana in Arizona. The bill I proposed this year, SB 1389, using those same funds would educate our youth about the dangers of recreational marijuana and pay for public service announcements to prevent drug abuse.
I am currently working with those in our Senate chamber to determine the best legislative solution for this issue before we end our legislative session. Until those discussions are finalized, I cannot go into further details at this time."
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