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Is Arizona the Next State to Legalize Recreational Marijuana? 

If you don’t make sure your voice is heard, then probably not

click to enlarge bigstock-vote-to-legalize-marijuana-but-37010725.jpg

Last week, I wrote about the need for research into the positive effects of marijuana. I chose this as my first topic because of how important I believe it to be. If I had to list in order of importance that would be issue 1A and issue 1B would be the decriminalization of marijuana.

This is another area where progress has been made, but there is still much work ahead.  

Many states are hoping to have votes on marijuana laws this election. Our state is no exception.  The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol, a ballot-initiative backed by the Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project, has the same formula led to legalizing weed in Colorado. MPP has helped states lobby for and pass reform of Marijuana laws since founded in 1995.

The group filed a ballot initiative with the Arizona Secretary of State last April. They have since been collecting signatures for the initiative to make the 2016 ballot.

According to mpp.org's last update, the campaign had collected over 125,000 of the 230,000 voter signatures the campaign wants to get. A total of 150,642 valid signatures of registered voters are needed by July. Valid signatures are key, this is why MPP has a goal of 230,000 signatures. "Signatures are often invalidated because they are illegible or because the signer provided incomplete or inaccurate information," MPP said. (Visit their website for more information on where to sign a petition if you haven't added your signature to the initiative.)

Make sure your voice is not only heard but gets the chance to be heard.

This is my plea to anyone who supports MPP's campaign or one similar to it. There are currently 11 sponsored bills relating to marijuana laws trying to make the ballot, according to mpp.org.

Arizona's vote to legalize medical marijuana in 2010, or Prop 203, should be reminder needed to make sure that we all exercise our right to vote.

Prop 203, another ballot campaign backed by MPP, narrowly passed by less than half of a percent, or less than 4,500 votes, six years ago.

California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada all also have similar MPP supported ballot initiatives for 2016.

MPP intends to use the legislative process to pass similar bills in Vermont and Rhode Island. If passed, it would be the first time a state legalized marijuana through the legislative process.

Delaware, Maryland, New Hampshire and Texas are also states that MPP plans to target.

If you are like me, then this all sounds like steps in the right direction, but the most important thing is that Arizona takes advantage of these initiatives.

Polls taken across the state show how close votes on marijuana will be.

A poll from the Behavior Research Center last June showed 53 percent favor legal personal possession of marijuana. Because of the margin of error this may not be a majority.

This November we will be electing a new president and history shows that voter turnout is much higher when this is the case. Let's make sure we are part of that turnout.

As always, I want to hear from you: email me at tucsonweekly@tucsonlocalmedia.com.

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