House Bill seeks to regulate, tax marijuana

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By Tami Hoey By Tami Hoey

PHOENIX -- An Arizona  lawmaker is hoping his bill to regulate and tax marijuana will be heard in the upcoming legislative session.

Representative Mark Cardenas, a democrat, is sponsoring House Bill 2007. Cardenas pre-filed it.

"A medical marijuana business could potentially have a business where they would sell it to the populace at large. It's more expensive than medical marijuana," Rep. Cardenas said.

In short, HB 2007 would make it legal for anyone over the age of 21 to possess up to an ounce of marijuana for personal or 'recreational' use. That same individual could also grow up to five plants.

The representative told 3TV previous estimates put the potential revenue of a bill like this at around $48 million for the state.

"It would go toward education, treatment programs and also the state's general fund," he said.

Cardenas also said that part of the reason for introducing this bill in the upcoming session is to get ahead of a citizens' initiative.

Ryan Hurley of the Rose Law Group is already busy crafting a referendum to get on the ballot in 2016.

"I think a citizens' initiative will absolutely pass. I've seen polling that's as high as 60 percent. I think the actual numbers are around 55 or 56," Hurley told 3TV.

Cardenas said while he supports a regulated marijuana system, however it happens, he would prefer that it occurs at the legislative level to avoid any potential problems down the road.

"Sometimes there are unforeseen consequences of legislation, as we've seen with the medical marijuana act system, then we can easily come back adjust it in the next year," said Cardenas.

He admits, though, it will likely be tough for this bill to even get a hearing.

Another bill that he is sponsoring, however, has a much better shot. It's House Bill 2006, a marijuana decriminalization bill.

In that one, Cardenas seeks to reduce the penalties of pot possession.

Under the proposed legislation, individuals caught with an ounce or less of marijuana would no longer be charged with a misdemeanor. Instead they would just have to pay a $100 fine.

Cardenas said he has already spoken with other lawmakers who seem more receptive to that bill.