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6/13/2013 6:00:00 AM
Legal marijuana could come to Arizona

Suzanne Adams-Ockrassa
Miner Staff Reporter

KINGMAN - Arizona could become one of the next states to legalize marijuana, if voters approve.

An organization called Safer Arizona filed paperwork with the Arizona Secretary of State's Office Tuesday to start collecting signatures to put the issue on the 2014 ballot.

The initiative would amend the state constitution to make it legal for anyone over the voting age to possess and use marijuana. It also sets up rules for the growth, manufacturing, sale and taxing of marijuana and marijuana products to the public for non-medical use.

It was the thought of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren getting arrested and having a felony record for a drug that he feels shouldn't be classified as a schedule one substance that drove Dennis Bohlke, Safer Arizona's treasurer, to get the ball rolling on the initiative.

"How devastating is that to have on your record or have to serve time in prison for?" he asked. "To me there was just no other way to get this issue solved (other than legalizing it.) I wanted to light a fire under the Legislature."

Shortly after Bohlke started researching the issue, Colorado and Washington state passed laws that legalized the drug by the general public.

"I saw the Colorado initiative get passed and thought I would use that as a template," said Bohlke. "I followed Colorado's tax structure (for legalized marijuana) and then went around to the different groups in Arizona, including the medical marijuana patients and legislators, and asked them what changes they would want to see in the law. I tried to create a well thought-out plan."

According to Safer Arizona's initiative, marijuana use would be governed by the same rules that alcohol is in the state, with a few exceptions.

• Residents who are older than the state's voting age, which is currently 18, would legally be able to purchase and possess up to 2.5 ounces of the drug. Customers would have to show their state ID as proof that they are old enough to purchase marijuana.

• Marijuana stores would be prohibited from copying and keeping any personal information about their customers.

• Residents would also be able to grow up to 12 plants in a locked facility or fenced back yard.

• Penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana would be the same as those for driving under the influence of alcohol. However, law enforcement would have to back up any sobriety tests they have showing marijuana in a defendant's system with a video recording of their encounter.

• The state would not be able to remove children from a home because of a parent's use of marijuana.

• The state would not be able to confiscate a person's guns or weapons because they use marijuana.

• The state would not be able to cut off state services to someone who uses marijuana.

• Employers, schools and medical facilities are not required to accommodate the use, sale or possession of marijuana at their locations.

• Using marijuana in public would be governed under the same laws as drinking in public.

• Marijuana shops and grow facilities would pay a 15 percent tax to the state. Half of that money would go to the Arizona Department of Health Services.

• Customers would be charged sales tax.

Mohave County Sheriff Tom Sheahan said he hasn't read the entire initiative, but he's not surprised that it exists.

"We knew this was coming. Medical marijuana was nothing more than an opening for this," he said. "I think this would be a disaster."

His department has found that most of the medical marijuana patients are younger and taking the drug for "chronic pain," Sheahan said. "They're not using it for glaucoma or any of the other things they said it would be used for. Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act was nothing more than a sales job."

"I would be surprised if this has a chance of passing," he said. But if it does, Sheahan said he will enforce it, whether he likes it or not.

If passed, the initiative would not affect Arizona's Medical Marijuana Act, Bohlke said. Medical marijuana patients and dispensaries would not be taxed and would not lose any of the rights they have under the MMA.

If passed, the Arizona Department of Health Services would have until July 2015 to come up with regulations and applications for the licensing of retail marijuana stores. Licensing fees would be limited to $1,000.

Local governments would have until October 2015 to come up with new zoning and licensing regulations for marijuana stores.

Once the state or a local government receives an application for a marijuana store, it has 90 days to issue the license or explain in writing why the person is not in compliance with local regulations.

In order to get the initiative on the ballot, Bohlke will have to gather more than 259,000 valid signatures from around the state. He said he's received a lot of encouragement from people, including those who run medical marijuana dispensaries, but the dispensaries are not financially backing his efforts.

"I'm not in the business. I'm an engineer. I work on computers. This is truly a grassroots effort. It's a shoestring operation. I can't guarantee success," he said. "I will say the odds are against me, but 750,000 to a million residents in Arizona say they've used marijuana. Let's see what happens."

People looking for petitions to sign or circulate should contact Safer Arizona through Facebook or by visiting

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Reader Comments

Posted: Tuesday, July 2, 2013
Article comment by: Al DiCicco

Watch this. Woman uses raw Cannabis Juice in place of 40 medications. medications.meds

Posted: Thursday, June 20, 2013
Article comment by: The logic is downright un-American!

Criminalizing individuals because they "might" drive under the influence is about as un-American as arresting them for being Christians!

Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Article comment by: I dont recall

How is smoking marijuana for any reason an immoral act?

In all the years Ive warmed a church pew. I cant recall any sermon judging the morality, use, or reason Marijuana exists.

Genesis tells us to use every thing that bears fruit and seed to benefit our existance and survival. On a Morality meter this should cover the topic. It is Moral to continue the human race. Right?

Posted: Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith


No , I am not employed in the field nor do I need that kind of job security. I do know about the effects of marijuana and the down side of it.
You people want it legalized because it is so medically needed. Let pharmeceuticul companies develope like opium was for for morphine?
I still say it is wrong to legalize it for "recreational use as it will just be another problem like alcohol.
We are living in a world where morals have gone to H#(). I Thank my God I am as old as me! I think some of you old people on here are OLD Hippies and like to brag about it.

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Article comment by: Say this and think

@ Say What.

" Dream on they will just reduce their prices to stay competitive."

Really....How do you compete with FREE. There wont be any prices to haggle or lower or even think about.

When you can have a dozen legal plants in your own backyard or closet and are allowed to hold 2.5 of useable Marijuana.

There is no longer money involved, hence no need for a street dealer or cartel. Unless the Cartel and dealers are going to Grow, harvest, and deliver to your door FREE. Theres nothing for them to do anymore. Obsolete.

How does "economics" work for you when theres no market for your product. Everyone that smokes will simply PLANT.

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Article comment by: Joe Miller

It is my opinion that making criminals of people for behaviors that simply present a possibility of making them “less productive” or a “medical burden” on our community is specious, ill conceived, and lacking in any sense of common morality or respect for the ideals of justice and liberty that form the bedrock of our traditional beliefs as a nation and people.

Such perspectives have led us into the enacting horrendously counter-productive national, state, and local policies as it relates to drug use and/or abuse issues.

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Article comment by: Arrests highly exaggerated?

According to the FBI's Uniform Crime Reporting data, there were a total of 1.5 million drug arrests made nationwide in 2011, and out of those arrests, about 750,000 were for marijuana (just under half, 49.5 percent) -- that's one marijuana arrest every 42 seconds and one drug arrest every 21 seconds in the U.S. Of those arrests in 2011, simple marijuana possession arrests accounted for 663,032 of those arrested.

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Article comment by: Health concerns?

I know I'd certainly prefer purchasing alcohol, marijuana, or any other drug of unknown quality and purity from a criminal street thug, NOT!

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Article comment by: Common sense on drug policy

@ Say what

So you buy a lot of alcohol from street dealers now do you?

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Article comment by: Common sense on drug policy

@ Walker

"The tax benefits we see from alcohol and tobacco are quickly evaporated due to the medical and social costs because of their use."

Your same logic was used to justify alcohol prohibition.

I think we all see now how faulty that line of logic was.

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Article comment by: mr. parker

The main problem with smoking or ingesting marijuana is people driving cars and operating machinery. This becomes a danger to the public.

What level of THC in the blood will impair your abilities? 2-5 nanograms/ml. of blood? Those are the amounts that have been set in some states. Will police have to take drivers into a hospital to draw blood?

When an employer requires drug testing, will they be able to deny jobs or terminate existing employees if they have detectable amounts in their blood or urine? If an employer doesn't require drug testing, will their liability insurance costs increase?

You do develop a tolerance with marijuana as you do with other drugs. so people smoke more to get the same effects, just like alcohol.(

I would prefer that people that feel they need this to be allowed to grow their own, just like you can brew your own beer or produce your own wine. Use it in the privacy of your own home.

@WarrenAO: Peer reviewed studies exist. ( Mixed results. I know it can help with neuropathic pain,e.g. diabetes- US govt.has a patent on that use,, spasticity from MS, reflex sympathetic dystrophy, etc. and AIDS cachexia. Once again though, it should be a standardized dose free from contaminants, not Purple Haze from a street dispensary.

@theyoungerpatient: Pharmaceutical companies do have cures and they develop treatments for people that would otherwise die from diseases like diabetes or hypertension. Antibiotics "cure" patients, e.g. with strep throat, when there was no treatment people developed complications like rheumatic fever.

Posted: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Article comment by: KO TAY

I read the 911 column and notice most possession charges are for those over 40. Over 40 and still unable to find a good stash spot although they have smoked it for years. And now you tell me it doesn't affect judgement and ability haha. I loved the gentleman and his wife that were so happy they were able to save enough money from their welfare to spend the $325 bucks per card. Imagine that. So yep lots of 40, 50, and 60 yr olds out there smoking dope but it hasn't affected their ability to apply for welfare but yes it has affected their ability to apply for a job.

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013
Article comment by: gun owner 000

@ old marijuana fan:
In his daily work, the Sheriff only sees the ones who cause problems or break the law with marijuana, so, he doesn't see too many of our "older" residents. Unfortunately, there's no intelligence test that goes with a medical marijuana card.
Making marijuana legal would have the same effect on organized crime that the repeal of Prohibition did. Alcohol was the lifeblood of organized crime. Once it was legal, they had to find some other way to finance their activities. Mexican drug cartels really don't want to see marijuana would cost them millions.

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013
Article comment by: The Real Truth

According to the new commercials being run on television, smoking cigarettes causes you to lose limbs, when was the last time you saw a marijuana user lose a limb from smoking it? Alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana yet there is no move to stomp it out. Now let's apply common sense, why not the push on alcohol and cigarettes? Too many people would lose money. How many companies would go bankrupt if they legalized marijuana? How many politicians would it effect if you were able to use marijuana for pain instead of taking a few pills? Millions of people on the workforce are under the influence of pain medications at work and driving everyday. Get real people and quit ignoring the real reasons they don't want to legalize it.

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013
Article comment by: Anson's Nephew

Ms Smith

“…. those who have been smokers of regular tabacco are ostercized, taxed to the hilt…”

Sounds good to me. Nasty, disgusting habits should be taxed out of existence.

“WE Should All be able to get high on illlegal POT even though it smells worse than regular tobacco…”

Usual hyperbole with not basis in truth. People should be allowed to use the product (BTW – many people do not smoke it) LEGALLY for control of medical issues.

“Anyone who thinks marijuana won't be used and abused just like alchol…”

You mean like people who abuse prescription drugs?

I have never used marijuana and doubt I ever will

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013
Article comment by: Mylee Kraemer

To the people who don't like the fact of marijuana being legal, get over it. If they make it legal in the state of Arizona, it should only allowed to be smoked in homes and not I public areas!

Posted: Monday, June 17, 2013
Article comment by: Say What?

@ Fantastic news

" After the street dealers disappear. Their connections higher up wont have customers."

Dream on! They'll just reduce their prices to remain competitive, it's called economics.

Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2013
Article comment by: to bad

Sheriff Sheahan say my dept found "most " of the card holders Young and using the card for chronic pain. Not using it for several other diagnoses listed.

Ok. What does that mean? Chronic Pain IS a listed diagnoses. I Would expect younger people to NOT have most of the Other diagnoses.

Im 53. Most of the 35 people renewing or getting cards on the day I went were at least a decade older then I. I think maybe 10 were under 25.

Losing funding for the yearly fleet of SUV's and having to find real criminals to fill the jails would be a disaster.

Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2013
Article comment by: Thank You

@ A. Smith,

You speak as if your employed within the incareration industry. We all understand that "inmates" equal "income" equals your job security. Its easy to understand your views come from survival thinking vesus informational thinking.

the first gateway drug is oxygen. After that Doctors slap. Everything a person sees goes right to their Mouth....Ask Any Mother.

This bill is going to pass so fast heads will spin. Im not even worried about petitions to get it going thats a given. TImes have changed in America. The lies of yesterday just dont fly in the communication age.

Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2013
Article comment by: Friend Walker

I think it’s unlikely we’d ever seen any financial or more importantly any social benefits from the legalization of marijuana. The tax benefits we see from alcohol and tobacco are quickly evaporated due to the medical and social costs because of their use. Think about the commercialization of alcohol and tobacco. Don’t you think we’d see the same glorification of marijuana and with it an increase in use? It logically follows that this would result in an increase in medical costs, accidents and lower productivity of those who indulge. It's unlikely we'd see any increase in savings from the criminal justice system. Rarely today are users incarcerated for just using and as reported by Carnegie Mellon's Jonathan Caulkins “This is not meant to imply that marijuana arrests do not have costs, but rather, that these concerns have been highly exaggerated.” It’s just not a good idea.

Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2013
Article comment by: RE: Amyrillis Smith

That 'gateway drug' argument won't fly. It's never been proven and there are plenty of people out there that have smoked pot for years and haven't started something else. Give it up, just doesn't fly!

Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2013
Article comment by: Effective strategies in addressing drug use/abuse problems

Why put people in jail or prison for what is essentially a medical issue? If a person commits a crime against another, they should be punished for that crime. We must accept personal responsibility for our actions whether they are committed under the influence of a drug or not. The concept of diminished capacity has a place in jurisprudence but needs to be reined in particularly as it relates to the issue of drug use and crime.

Prohibitionist drug polices serve only to make matters worse. It is through prohibitionist drug policies that we turn over the responsibility for the production and distribution of these substances to criminal predators. Interested in keeping drugs out of the hands of children and the mentally incompetent? Support the actual control and regulation of these substances as afforded by legalization. It is only through education and treatment that we can effectively address our drug use and/or abuse issues.

Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2013
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

Mothers of children killed by drunk drivers formed MADD and it has had a huge impact, Now they will have to form MAMD as well.
What a shame, this country has already gone far enough towards the gates of hell, why not keep on pushing forward people?

Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2013
Article comment by: Common sense in drug policy

Only a lame and cruel society would incarcerate people solely for using or possessing a drug, any drug.

Posted: Sunday, June 16, 2013
Article comment by: Amaryllis Smith

And it has been the right for adults to smoke regular tabacco, that doesn't impair your ability to drive, to walk straight or to function correctly in your everyday life! But, those who have been smokers of regular tabacco are ostercized, taxed to the hilt in the purchase of regular tabacco--everytime the politicians want to raise more money they add more tax on cigarettes.

But wait, WE Should All be able to get high on illlegal POT even though it smells worse than regular tabacco, can still cause you to have a criminal record, go to prison because of new laws that will be implemented just like the ones for DUI of alchol.

And don't forget the machine operator who just killed six(6) people in that disastor in Pa. because he was HIGH on Marijuana.
Anyone who thinks marijuana won't be used and abused just like alchol has a screw loose and anyone who thinks legallizing it will kept people out of jail/prison has a screw loose!!

I have never used marijuana or had to deal with a child using it but, I have babysit plenty of inmates who did and they didn't didn't stop with marijuana but went on to even harder drugs!

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