By Steve Elliott
An Arizona man has launched an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana for adults in the state.
Dennis Bohlke, 59, a north Phoenix computer programmer, is leading the Safer Arizona initiative, reports Yvonne Wingett Sanchez at The Republic. Bohlke said the measure is modeled after Colorado's newly enacted constitutional amendment, which taxes and regulates cannabis.
"The intent of the initiative is to legalize marijuana in Arizona and to treat it as we treat alcohol," Bohlke said.
The measure would amend Arizona's Constitution to allow people 18 and over (not 21 and over, as in Washington and Colorado) "to consume and possess limited amounts" of marijuana. The state would license grow facilities, retail marijuana stores and other related businesses.
The initiative needs 259,213 valid voter signatures by July 3, 2014, to qualify for the November 2014 ballot.
There is no major financial backing to fund signature gathering, according to Bohlke; that has been the death knell for efforts in other states including, most recently, Oregon's Measure 80. He acknowledged it will be "challenging" to gather the necessary signatures to qualiy for the ballot without major funding.
Bolhlke said he had spoken with Republican, "Tea Party" and Democratic lawmakers about the measure, and while they won't openly support him, they seemed "very receptive" to his initiative.