The Marijuana Policy Project has mended ties with activists and dispensary representatives, so the group officially filed its weed ballot measure with the Secretary of State's Office Friday to begin the signature gathering campaign. This comes less than one month after a plan B group—Arizonans for Responsible Legalization—headed by MPP of Arizona's former campaign chairwoman Gina Berman came out with news that it'd be putting forward its own initiative, because they were not happy with the dispensaries' end of the stick.
Over the last few days, members of ARL traveled to D.C. and met with MPP leaders to discuss a middle ground for regulatory issues and other disagreements with the industry's proposed business structure and licensing. And, to make sure activists stayed on board, MPP put home cultivation rights back on the measure.
"Not everybody is happy with the language, I am not in love with all of the components, but we have the best compromise we are going to get," says Mikel Weisser, political director of Safer Arizona, the group that fought hard for homegrown weed language to make the initiative.
Weisser was the only non-MPP member who participated in the announcement event in Phoenix Friday afternoon.
"They wanted me there to show that we weren't going to face another split," he says. "Safer Arizona is going to continue to work in the activist community to make sure that all of Arizona gets included in the legalization and in the movement. The central MPP committee is going to pretty much focus on the mainstream message, leaving Safer Arizona to look at the folks not being included in the Arizona political discussion."
Weisser believed that if the two groups couldn't work it out, legal weed in Arizona would have been boycotted again.
The ballot measure would allow adults 21 and up to buy no more than an ounce of pot through a state-licensed retailer or dispensary. An adult 21 or older would be able to grow six plants and there will be a limit of no more than 12 plants per household. There is a license, worth $7,500, for people who want to sell their pot, without jumping into a full-on dispensary.
MPP expects taxes, set at 15 percent, to bring revenue of between $60 million and $100 million. The funds would go toward sales regulation, education and public health efforts.
Safer Arizona plans to host a series of public forums to answer everyone's weed questions. They'll also be at the forefront of gathering signatures. The measure needs 150,642 by June 2016 to make it on the ballot.
Other states targeted by MPP to legalize ganja next year are California Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine.
Colorado and Washington legalized recreational pot in 2012. Oregon, Alaska and D.C. gave it the go last year.
PS: Happy 4/20!