Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Like it or lump it, the Safer Arizona initiative is a mainstream issue

On Tuesday, Arizona House Assistant Minority Leader Ruben Gallego announced plans to introduce legislation to regulate and tax marijuana.

STATE CAPITOL, PHOENIX – Assistant House Minority Leader Ruben Gallego, D-Phoenix (District 27), is working on legislation that would regulate and tax marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol. The legislation would include a strictly enforced age limit for purchasing and using marijuana. It would also make marijuana taxable.

“The issue of marijuana regulation is pragmatic,” Gallego said. “Regulating marijuana takes sales off the street and puts them in a controlled environment. Ultimately, this will help law enforcement, especially in times when resources are limited. About 750,000 Americans were arrested for marijuana-related offenses in 2012, and the majority of those arrests were simply for possession[1]. Law enforcement officers’ time and resources would be better spent addressing serious crimes, so that we are all safer. Additionally, we can use some of the money generated from the sales to pay for public education and treatment programs for alcohol and drug abuse.”

In its current draft, Gallego’s bill includes the following regulations for marijuana sale and use:
·         Prohibits any marijuana use or possession for individuals under the age of 21
·         Allows those 21 years old and older to possess and consume one ounce or less of marijuana
·         Allows those 21 years old and older to possess and grow no more than five marijuana plants
·         Allows those 21 years old and older to give one ounce or less of marijuana to another  person who is over the age of 21, as long as they do not receive any money for the transfer
·         Bans public smoking of marijuana
·         Establishes requirements for marijuana-related facilities, including retail shops that can sell marijuana

·         Imposes an excise tax on the sale or transfer of marijuana and distributes the tax proceeds to fund public education and treatment programs for alcohol and drug abuse, with half of the money going to the state general fund

[1] Source: FBI 2012 Uniform Crime Report released in September 2013

Note: The FBI 2012 crime report shows an estimated 1,552,432 arrests nationwide for drug related offenses (Table 29). Agency arrest tables show 48.3 percent of those arrested for drug offenses were specifically for marijuana. 

Note: Arrest data for Maricopa County show that the most frequent charge is Drug Paraphernalia-possession/use (which could be simply the possession/use of a device for vaporizing or smoking marijuana). Marijuana possession/use is listed as the fifth most frequent charging offense, at 5,495 so far this year.

Our courts have claimed they are overwhelmed. Well, it's really no wonder when our highly militarized law enforcement agencies spend most of their time picking off the lowest hanging fruit instead of investigating and preventing property and violent crimes. And when Arizona's highest law enforcement officer spends his time harassing DREAMERS and arresting those who protest HIS unlawful conduct.

In the first part of this clip from KTVK Channel 3's Politics Unplugged episode that aired on October 27 (of a meeting Citizens for a Better Arizona had with Attorney General Tom Horne six days earlier), activist Carolyn Cooper gives Horne "what for" in a big way. She was arrested after Horne left the meeting and was taken to Maricopa County Jail (and had to appear before a judge prior to release).

Cooper is due in Maricopa County Superior court on December 4. A couple of other activists arrested that day appeared before a judge today (the day before Thanksgiving), just to set a court date for January. Wouldn't it be nice if our GOP overlords (in high office in Arizona) were more interested in preventing violent crimes and property crimes than in suppressing dissent?



But I digress...

Today in a grocery store, I overheard a group of four young adult women talking about the Safer Arizona initiative. And last night, Channel 10 did a brief segment on its newscast about Gallego's announcement. The Safer Arizona initiative WILL be approved by Arizona voters if we can get the petition in front of enough people. We need volunteers and donations (for copying, mailing and related costs). Please go to SaferArizona.com to volunteer and donate.

FOX 10 News | myfoxphoenix.com

And lastly this evening, I wish an (emotionally) warm and Happy Thanksgiving to all of the readers of the Arizona Eagletarian. In addition to my thankfulness for my family, I am very thankful for you.


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