As Arizona Republicans continued to foster division in their ranks by censuring Sen. John McCain, the Arizona Democratic Party took a bold stand for genuine liberty today resolving:
... the Arizona Democratic Party resolves to support the Safer Arizona citizens initiative... using our state, county and legislative district organizations to demonstrate the true nature of a citizen initiative to change our state's laws, public policy and to demonstrate that Democratic Precinct Committeemen and women, activists and elected officials throughout Arizona strongly stand for the civil liberties of Arizonans and for sound drug abuse policy.The argument, in the text of the resolution, includes:
Whereas, public opinion polling conducted by Arizona based Behavior Research Center in May 2013 showed “Now it appears that a majority (56%) also favor legalizing possession of small amounts of marijuana for personal use... it is men (62%) rather than women (50%) that are the most supportive of marijuana legalization, but defelonization also enjoys majority support in all age groups, across all counties and among both Democrats and Independent voters. Indeed, Independent voters are the most supportive at a very strong 72 percent, with only one in five opposed. Support drops among Republicans and political conservatives, yet it is clear that they are not of one mind on the issue."I embedded links in the resolution to support the numerous reasons this is the right direction for Arizona.
Among registered Republicans, 41 percent favor defelonization of marijuana while 56 percent oppose. Among political conservatives, 35 percent favor defelonization for personal use, but 58 percent remain in opposition. The opposition of conservatives is more than offset by the support among political moderates (67 %) and political liberals (75%). And while a majority in all age groups support legalizing simple possession of a small amount of marijuana, it is clear that voters under 54 years of age are the most likely age groups to carry this view into future elections.
“It is perhaps ironic that as support for same-sex marriage and defelonization of marijuana have long been albatrosses which conservative candidates could hang around the necks of some of their moderate or liberal challengers, it now appears that hard opposition to gay marriage and perhaps even to marijuana liberalization could become issues moderates and liberals can use against their conservative opponents...; [There does not appear to have been any factor present itself to Arizona voters to decrease support for marijuana legalization since this survey.] (Gallup polling in October 2013 shows strong support for legalization);
A December poll by Republican research firm Susquehanna Polling and Research suggests Arizonans oppose legalization). According to Gallup, the bottom line is “It has been a long path toward majority acceptance of marijuana over the past 44 years, but Americans' support for legalization accelerated as the new millennium began.”
As I've reported over the two weeks since the 2014 legislative session began, GOP lawmakers have attempted to fast-track bills aimed at further enriching Sen. Steve Yarbrough, further undermining public education and authorizing widespread religious bigotry (again, Yarbrough, but also Eddie Farnsworth) introducing the Orwellian-labeled Religious "exercise of religion" bill.
Last summer a multi-partisan coalition, in a matter of six weeks, collected far more than the minimum number of valid signatures of registered voters to put a citizen veto of the Voter Suppression Bill (#StopHB2305) on the 2014 general election ballot. That the coalition succeeded in that effort certainly has gotten the attention of Republican state lawmakers.
Now they want to pre-empt the voters and have been talking about the fact that if they let the referendum go forward, it could possibly lead to all election statutes being subject to the Voter Protection Act (which would require a supermajority vote in the both chambers of the legislature to make ANY changes to related statutes). The knuckleheads should have thought of that before they rushed in the last moments of the 2013 legislative session to pass HB2305. If they can pre-empt the voters, they are certainly going to try.
Nevertheless, despite Republican efforts to take the wind out of the sails of their opponents, a Democratic Party led coalition can certainly collect the well more than 300,000 signatures needed to get Safer Arizona on the ballot in the remaining five months before the deadline for turning in initiative petitions.
There is MUCH to be written about the resolution, but now is the time to get to work.
With Arizona House of Representatives Assistant Minority Leader Ruben Gallego