Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Weed War: The Split in the Pro-Legalization Initiatives

Posted By on Tue, Sep 8, 2015 at 12:39 PM

click to enlarge bigstock-close-up-of-hemp-buds-94616780.jpg

Ray Stern of Phoenix New Times takes a deep dive into the opposing forces pushing initiatives to legalize marijuana in Arizona. He notes that one of the groups, Arizonans for Mindful Regulation, is vowing to work to defeat the Marijuana Policy Project's proposition if it makes the ballot:

Yet one of legalization’s biggest challenges is in-fighting among marijuana supporters.

The latest negative campaigning against the MPP effort actually is the second time this year that a pro-legalization group has upset the already-delicate chances of legalization. The first was a coalition of dispensaries that demanded they be given a leg up on would-be competitors in any newly formed system of retail marijuana stores.

Now, Arizonans for Mindful Regulation has persuaded Safer Arizona — formerly a backer of the MPP initiative — to adopt its cause. Its leader, Jason Medar, is a former Orange County, California, medical-marijuana dispensary owner who helped sink that state’s 2010 legalization initiative, Proposition 19. Medar claims he opposed the measure out of principle, not because he felt it was a threat to his businesses. Prop 19 failed 53.5 percent to 46.5 percent

Medar left his California dispensaries and apparently has no business ventures planned in Arizona. The AZFMR’s campaign doesn’t focus on commercial aspects of legalization.

It focuses on keeping pot users out of jail.

The group has its own multi-page initiative — and it’s similar to the MPP’s measure in that it ends prohibition.

But the AZFMR’s proposal goes further by calling for, among other things, a reduction in the penalty for the possession of eight ounces for sale from a felony to a misdemeanor.

Don’t mistake Medar’s campaign for less-serious measures that have been filed with the state with no chance of making the ballot, such as the proposed Re-Legalize All Drugs initiative.
Medar’s group claims to have gathered about 6,000 signatures so far.

But the AZFMR’s enthusiastic crowd lacks one very important thing: money. And it has to raise the same amount of signatures as the MPP.

Medar vows that if his group’s initiative fails to make the ballot, the campaign will use its resources to persuade voters to vote “no” on the MPP measure.

They hate it that much — even though it appears to be the best way to further their interests.


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