Thursday, July 25

Arizona Wants Recreational Marijuana Legalized, and Could Get It

Arizona might have legalized medical marijuana years ago, but a recent poll found that people in the Grand Canyon State want more, which a new bill may give them.

According to researchers from Arizona State University’s Morrison Institute for Public Policy and the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, 45% of the Arizona adults polled said they would like to see the state “make all marijuana use legal for those 18 years-of-age and older,” and 42% said that they support full legalization of medical marijuana.

Only 13% of those surveyed opposed making any form of marijuana legal for any reason.

In 2010, Arizona legalized medical marijuana, which can be used to help scores of people who suffer from alcoholism, the number one drug problem in the United States. A study published in the Harm Reduction Journal found that 57.4% of respondents chose to use medical marijuana to curb alcohol cravings because it help them manage their withdrawal symptoms better.

About 53% of adults in the United States have reported that one or more of their close relatives have a drinking problem. It’s also a rampant problem amongst Native Americans, more than 365,000 of whom live in Arizona according to census data from 2013. One study found that nearly 12% of the deaths among Native Americans and Alaska Native are alcohol-related — more than three times the percentage in the general population.

Now, there’s a bill in the state legislature that could give Arizonians what they want, making not only medical marijuana legal, but recreational marijuana legal as well for anyone over the age of 21. Tom Rodgers, a Native American strategist and voting rights advocate, told “The Hill” that recreational marijuana legalization “will mean less historical ignorance of the war on drugs, less big pharma, less big alcohol, more empathy and justice for the sick, the veteran, the prisoner and my impoverished native brothers and sisters.”

Should that bill fail, voters can expect to see a similar measure on their 2016 ballots. The Marijuana Policy Project of Arizona is drafting language for the initiative to begin gathering signatures soon.

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