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Recreational Marijuana Ballot Initiative for 2016 Registered With State

ABC News

A 2016 ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona has been registered with the secretary of state’s office. As Arizona Public Radio’s Ryan Heinsius reports, if passed it would mean the state would control the marijuana industry.

The Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act would allow those 21 and over to possess, consume and grow limited amounts of pot. It would also create the Department of Marijuana Licenses and Control and put a 15 percent tax on all retail sales from official dispensaries. That revenue would then benefit public health and education.

Carlos Alfaro is with the Marijuana Policy Project and heads the legalization effort in Arizona.

“A large majority, a strong majority, of Arizonans support regulating marijuana — taking it out of the underground criminal market and bringing it up to legitimate, licensed businesses to sell this stuff. Funding of public health and education is definitely more preferable than funding drug cartels or the dealers,” Alfaro says.

However, a group of state officials, including Yavapai County Attorney Shelia Polk, is actively campaigning against legalizing recreational marijuana. Polk describes pot as a major public health issue, and says it’s responsible for respiratory problems, mental illness and reduced cognitive function in users.

For the legalization initiative to get on the 2016 ballot, supporters must first get more than 150,000 signatures by the July deadline.

Ryan Heinsius joined the KNAU newsroom as executive producer in 2013 and was named news director and managing editor in 2024. As a reporter, he has covered a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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