Public Safety & Justice

Arizona Group Gives Up on Marijuana Legalization for Now

June 19, 2014

Arizona residents won't be toking up in public anytime soon. At least, not legally.

Safer Arizona, a cannabis-reform political-action committee, announced it stopped collecting signatures for its 2014 ballot initiative to legalize marijuana last week.

The volunteer-driven initiative fell well below the 250,000 signatures necessary to get on the ballot, said Mikel Weisser, executive director for Safer Arizona.

"It was around a third of what we were after," Weisser said. "It's not going to be a number that we are rallying behind, it's a benchmark to improve from."

The organization lacked the funding and the manpower to collect all the required signatures, he said. All four of the volunteer organizers held day jobs and could work on the legislation only part time.

Additionally, the ballot initiative faced pushback from within the pro-marijuana community. The measure, if passed, would have redirected the issuing of marijuana licenses from the Arizona Department of Health Services to a revenue-related department, Weisser said.

"There were people in the dispensary industry and the cannabis establishment that liked our vigor and verve, but a lot of people were worried about what we would do for the business model," he said.

Safer Arizona isn't throwing in the towel, however.

The organization has already begun redirecting the momentum of the signature campaign for a 2016 ballot initiative, one that reflects the needs of the community, he said.

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