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Arizona Cannabis Activists Are Fighting to Get Recreational Legalization on the Ballot in 2018

After narrowly failing to approve legalization in 2016, The Safer Arizona Cannabis Legalization Political Action Committee is gearing up for the next round.

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In November 2016, eight states voted to legalize medical or recreational cannabis, marking bittersweet victories on a day that also led to a Donald Trump presidency. Legislatively speaking, it was a day worth celebrating for marijuana activists, but there was still one outlier that prevented the plant from claiming a clean sweep across the country.

By a narrow vote of 52.2 to 47.8 percent, the state of Arizona voted to deny recreational legalization. In a battle that pitted special business interests against pro-cannabis organizations, the latter was unable to find enough support to put Prop 205 over the top. However, despite the disappointing loss, local groups have not been deterred from preparing for the next ballot in 2018.

On Saturday, The Safer Arizona Cannabis Legalization Political Action Committee hosted a march in Phoenix, joining a number of other organizations for the nationwide Million Marijuana March. The rally aimed to show just how much support there is for the legalization of cannabis for adults 21 and older.

The pro-cannabis organization has already filed paperwork to the Arizona Secretary of State that would allow them to start a petition to get legislation on the November 2018 ballot. In order to get the revamped proposition onto the ballot, The Safer Arizona Cannabis Legalization Political Action Committee is required to gather 156,042 signatures from valid state voters by July 5 of next year.

This time around, organizers have tightened up some of the loose ends that caused Prop 205 to flounder. The aim is to legalize "the possession, consumption, cultivation and sales of cannabis for adults,” while also decriminalizing cannabis-related offenses and replacing them with fines or misdemeanors. The proposition would also put tax revenue collected from cannabis sales specifically towards the educational system.

With a number of special interests and anti-cannabis organizations putting a dent in last year’s attempt to pass recreational legislation, The Safer Arizona Cannabis Legalization Political Action Committee and other pro-cannabis organizations must come more prepared in 2018. After just barely missing the mark during the last election, activists are hoping that voters in Arizona will have another chance to legalize marijuana use soon, but whether they’ll be able to muster up the support needed to pass the proposition still remains to be seen.   

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