PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) – A group working to legalize recreational marijuana for adults in Arizona filed its initiative with the Secretary of State's Office Friday and is now turning to getting enough signatures have it placed on the ballot for voters to decide.
The issue of legalizing recreational pot for adults was on the ballot in 2016 as Proposition 205. Voters narrowly rejected it.
Now proponents hoping to give it another go in 2020 have crafted a new initiative.
"It incorporates lessons learned from the 2016 campaign, as well as from other states that have already legalized cannabis," explained Stacy Pearson, the political consultant who is helping run the campaign.
The 16-page Smart and Safe Arizona Act would make it legal for people 21 and older to buy, possess and consume up to one ounce of marijuana, but bans smoking it in public places and open spaces.
"It allows employers and property owners to prohibit use at their workplaces and on their property, as many do currently," Pearson said.
The Smart and Safe Arizona Act would also mandate childproof packaging that is clearly labeled and would ban the sale of products that "resemble kids' candy."
Pearson also highlighted the positive impact passing the act would have on Arizona's bottom line -- $300 million a year in new revenue.
"It provides critical funding for public safety training, personnel and traffic enforcement," she said.
Supporters also anticipate the creation of thousands of jobs.
According to Pearson, the benefits are not just to the state.
"It does the right thing by providing an option for folks who were previously convicted of low-level marijuana charges to have their criminal records sealed so they have fair access to jobs and housing," she said. "It frees up police to focus on real crime and hard drugs and unclogs the justice system which is currently backlogged with minor offenses."
But opponent's concerns remain the same as they were in 2016.
"I think there's a lot here to worry about," said Robert Leger, representing the Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy.
"If you have a vote that says it's OK to use it, I think those kids who might be on the fence might are more likely to say 'The voters say it's a good think to have, it can't be bad for us.' I think it makes more legitimate in the eyes of a teenager," he said.
In May, a spokesman for the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the business group that actively fought Prop. 205, had not taken a position on the new initiative.
"I suppose in the broadest sense it's wait and see, but looking back at our concerns from the previous measure, proponents would have a long way to go," spokesman Garrick Taylor said.
Some Arizona lawmakers and Arizona Attorney Mark Brnovich believe the Legislature should make the decision about legalizing recreational marijuana, not voters.
Rep. T.J. Shope, the speaker pro tempore, said last month that the Legislature might need to craft its own legislation to avoid unintended consequences from an industry-backed initiative.
"We are working to craft a ballot measure that addresses most people's concerns, so it will make it unnecessary for them to pursue that," said Chad Campbell, a former state lawmaker and a consultant for the marijuana ballot measure.
Eleven states and the District of Columbia have already legalized recreational marijuana use by adults.
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