Budget Analysts Predict 66,000 People Would Sign Up for Medical Weed if Legalized in Arizona

If medical marijuana is legalized in Arizona, 66,000 people would register to be recipients of prescribed pot -- says a legislative budget assessment of what the effect would be on the state.

Analysts predict that 39,600 people would register and that another 26,400 designated caregivers would bring the number of medical potheads to 66,000 by the time the program got fully implemented in the 2012-2013 fiscal year.

Those numbers are based on estimates from a similar program that already exists in Colorado.

Voters in Arizona will again have a chance to legalize medical marijuana when it appears on the ballot in November.  

The use of medical weed has been approved by Arizona voters twice in the last 15 years, but in each case, the wording of the measure prevented it from becoming law.

We spoke to Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project campaign manager Andrew Myers in April about past problems with the law, and he says they shouldn't be a problem this time around.

"We have the benefit of experience now," he says.

Some of the problems that Myers says are now ironed out are the issue of how to tax the marijuana, certain regulations that dictate where the ganja can be smoked, and the number of marijuana dispensaries -- which, he says, are several of the problems facing California's medical-marijuana program.

"Right now, in Los Angeles, there are more marijuana dispensaries than there are Starbucks," Myers says.

Under the guidelines of the new initiative, the number of dispensaries would be limited to about 120 statewide, and smokers would only be allowed to smoke in a private place, not at the dispensaries.

"[Medical marijuana] is overwhelmingly supported in Arizona," Myers says. "In the past, voters have supported it, and polls show that about 65 percent of voters would support it this time."

For more information on the initiative and the AMMPP, click here.