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3/17/2014 6:00:00 AM
Promoters promise high revenue from marijuana
Two marijuana measures on the table in Arizona
Illustration by Michal
Illustration by Michal "Sparky" Knowlton/Daily Miner
Where pot taxes would go
HB 2558 would:

• Dedicate 30 percent to the Department of Education

• Dedicate 10 percent to the Department of Health Services for voluntary treatment for alcohol, tobacco and marijuana abuse and another 10 percent to the department for a public education campaign to teach juveniles and adults about the risk of alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use.

• The remaining 50 percent would go into the state general fund. While advocates hope to land the initiatives on this year's ballot, two other states might have a better chance for passage this year.

A push to legalize the drug in strongly libertarian Alaska looks promising for advocates, and a push to do the same in liberal Oregon has picked up momentum.

Piccinino and CannabiNation AZ will host a "rally the vote" event in Kingman on April 19.

Show me the money

If HB 2558 becomes law and marijuana is legally sold and taxed in Arizona, the state could collect even more in excise taxes than Colorado has since legal marijuana sales began in that state in January. This suggestion is based solely on a population comparison using data provided by the U.S. Census Bureau for 2013.

Arizona 6,626,624

Colorado 5,268,367

Difference 1,358,257

Colorado Gov. John W. Hickenlooper recently said revenue from legal marijuana sales would reach $134 million next fiscal year. The state collected about $3.5 million in the sale of both medical and recreational marijuana in January, with $2.1 million coming from recreational sales.


Doug McMurdo
Miner Staff Reporter


KINGMAN - Backers of two marijuana initiatives - one that would reduce the penalty for possession of the weed from a felony to a civil fine and another that would fully legalize recreational use for Arizonans 21 years or older - are in the process of gathering the necessary signatures needed to place them on November's ballot.

Susan Piccinino, president of CannibiNation AZ, is the point person in Kingman. CannibiNation AZ is an affiliate of Safer Arizona, a Tucson-based marijuana advocacy group that is trying to gather roughly 259,000 signatures by the July 3 deadline to have either measure on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Piccinino, 60, favors "total legalization," but she said the state's economy would benefit if either measure passes.

A pair of Phoenix lawmakers introduced the proposed legislation last month.

Rep. Mark Cardenas' HB 2474 would significantly reduce penalties for marijuana possession.

Cardenas, a Democrat, proposes a civil fine of $100 for possession of less than one ounce of marijuana. Currently, possession of any amount of marijuana by someone without a valid medical marijuana card is a class 6 felony.

A person in possession of between one ounce and two pounds of marijuana that is not for sale would be guilty of a petty offense.

Possession of larger amounts of marijuana, whether for sale or not, would remain a felony, but at a less serious classification.

The legislation has relatively harsh penalties for juveniles who are convicted of possessing any amount of marijuana, with the penalties focused more on treatment than punishment.

Many Arizona prisoners currently serving time for marijuana possession would become eligible for parole if they meet certain prerequisites.

"We would save money on law enforcement and prisons, create new jobs and dramatically reduce the criminal elements that produce pot today and (smuggle) it into America," said Piccinino.

"Marijuana prohibition is unjust, inhumane, and a waste of police, legal and taxpayer resources. It is the essence of unwarranted big government intrusion into our private lives."

Legalization, she said, would do even more good.

Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix, introduced HB 2558, which if approved by voters would legalize recreational use of marijuana.

Gallegos has said marijuana prohibition has ruined lives and that the time has come to take the law off the books.

But the bottom line could be the bottom line.

Colorado recently announced it collected roughly $2 million in legal pot taxes in January; the first month marijuana became legal for recreational use in that state.

If Arizona voters approve the measure, Gallego's legislation includes a $50 excise tax per ounce of marijuana that a grower sells to a retailer.

There are provisions in place that would allow lawmakers to increase or decrease the excise tax, depending on the state of the economy.

Piccinino said a Rally the Vote event will take place April 19 at the Historic Route 66 Swap Meet at Route 66 and Thompson Avenue.



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Reader Comments

Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014
Article comment by: Just Wondering

What are employers supposed to do when an employee shows up to work "stoned" but has a medical card allowing them to use marijuana. Can an employer fire them? Can police arrest a person for DUI if they possess a card?

Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014
Article comment by: vicki gibbons

NO....NO....NO...NO....

Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014
Article comment by: bong graph

Was a normal chart not properly explanatory for the subject? Those things get very smelly and dirty after just the first use, imagine what the lungs of the user look like. The dept. of health will need more then 10%, but fear not..the hard working tax payer is ready and excited to pick up the tab.

Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014
Article comment by: Maxwell Gibbons

No thank you. Legalizing it is going save money and raise fund. Now what, how are we suppose to secure the border after this happens. Pot heads are the ones think marijuana is great. I living in Butte, Montana for 6 months and lived with my cousin for part of it. He runs a medical marijuana business. I have witness the bad side of it not being regulated properly. He smokes it every 15 minutes or less. He has become a form of brain dead from smoking so much. His memory is shot and forgets things so he blames everyone for his actions. He is not the same cousin I had 4 years ago,

If make legal, than it should be in pill form. Making in pill form would make it courteous to those that don't like it including myself.

Its sad that everyone that supports it usually are the ones that smoke it the most and does not give a flip about others around them.

I could go on and on this subject.


Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014
Article comment by: Cliff Foster

Rather than a personal medical issue, marijuana use is a serious social problem. Recreational drug use alters one's mindset, emphasizing one's carnal nature over one's rationality, thereby lowering man to his animal impulses.

Rather than retiring to our own separate opium dens, why not try engaging in life, cleaning a front yard, repairing dilapidated homes, selling unused vehicles, in short, setting goals and achieving them?

An idle "medicated" life presupposes a serious illness ...a weakness of one's willpower.


Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014
Article comment by: Al DiCicco

The main reasons many wish to keep Cannabis illegal is to continue ruining lives, through fines paid to the State, creating felons that cannot vote, and prison slaves for the tax funded private prison slavery racket. Education is important so that people make informed decisions about and what they put into their bodies. In the end, it is our liberty to decide what we put into our bodies bad food, alcohol, candy or Cannabis. That is liberty. Anything less is submitting to an arbitrary authority that claims to have the authority to incarcerate for our personal choices.

Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014
Article comment by: john g

very good move ! new roads for bird land !

Posted: Monday, March 17, 2014
Article comment by: Jay Fleming

Legalization vs Decriminalization

Legalization allows the collection of taxes, and legal venues for obtaining marijuana. It also stops all the searches, and invasions into people's lives by law enforcement.

Decriminalization reduces penalties, but leaves all the bad things associated with drugs in place, like the black-market, drug dealers, and cartels.

Its important we do this right the first time. Trying to change our current medical marijuana law, should teach us it's important to get it right the first time.



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