Arizona Lawmaker Wants State Lawmakers to Legalize Pot, Not Citizens


Arizona state Rep. Ethan Orr, R-Tucson.

Tucson Republican state Rep. Ethan Orr doesn’t trust the people. Out of fear that a proposed (but unwritten) 2016 marijuana legalization ballot might be too loose of a plan, Orr says he’s going to push for a marijuana legalization bill next year to make sure the state has a say in the rules and regulations.
“I would rather us as elected leaders be the ones directing the conversation and the debate, and ultimately controlling the policy, as opposed to letting it go to a citizens’ initiative where you can’t change the law once it’s in place,” he told the Arizona Capitol Times this week.

There are no details yet, but according to Orr, the plan would tax cannabis and use the money to help deal with the state’s budget deficit.
“Right now, I’m trying to gauge the support of my caucus to get a hearing on this issue,” said Orr, who represents a district in Tucson. “There needs to be enough support so that we can have the discussion.”
And that doesn’t seem to be the case. According to Rep. Bob Thorpe of Flagstaff, being a Republican means not touching marijuana with a ten foot pole.
“I think being a Republican and sponsoring a bill that legalizes marijuana might be a third rail,” Thorpe said. Something that you really don’t want to touch as a Republican because you’ll get cooked, especially by the base.”
Orr says he will meet with stakeholders from law enforcement as well as cannabis users while crafting his bill. The Arizona legislature convenes for their next session on January 12, 2015.
Something needs to happen. Arizona is one of the worst states to get caught with cannabis, and anything from a single bud up to two pounds is a felony charge with $750 in fines and anywhere from four months to two years in jail. Even possession of paraphernalia can get you up to two years in jail.