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Legalizing marijuana use will create jobs and new revenue

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Guest columnist Lisa James’ fear-mongering commentary October 26 on why Proposition 207 is losing support has little basis in reality.

To date, 11 states and Washington, D.C., have legalized cannabis for adult use.

None of these states have ever repealed or even rolled back their policies.

That is because these legalization laws are operating largely as voters intended and that the public finds preferable to criminal prohibition.

In fact, public opinion nationwide in favor of marijuana legalization now stands at an all-time high — with two out of three Americans endorsing it.

Paul Armentano

Paul Armentano

Certainly, such support would be unthinkable if legalization, in practice, resulted in the sort of ‘sky is falling’ scenarios alleged by Ms. James and the No207az campaign she represents.

Marijuana law reform is sorely needed in Arizona. Currently, Arizona is the only state in the nation that classifies minor marijuana offenses as potential felonies. Those Arizonans arrested and convicted under the law must bear the stigma of a criminal record and the loss of professional and economic opportunities that come with it. These penalties are a disproportionate public-policy response to behavior that is, at worst, a matter of public health. But it should not be a criminal justice matter.

Proposition 207 will disrupt the illicit market, end low-level marijuana arrests, create jobs and new revenue. It will not jeopardize public safety, but rather it will strengthen public safety by redirecting criminal justice resources away from marijuana possession enforcement and toward more serious criminal investigations, while simultaneously providing oversight and regulations to the marijuana marketplace. A “yes” vote is the right vote for Arizona.

Paul Armentano is deputy director, National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), Washington, D.C. He can be reached at: paul@norml.org or (703) 606-7539.

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