The folks behind an initiative to legalize recreational marijuana are positive they have enough signatures to nail a spot on the November ballot. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol says over 258-thousand signatures are in hand. Initiative spokesman J.P. Holyoak says the

movement needs only 150-thousand valid signatures to put the issue before voters.

The initiative would allow adults 21 and over to buy up to one ounce of marijuana at dispensaries. The pot would be taxed at 15-percent, with the proceeds going into education and public health. Holyoke told reporters at a Thursday news conference, the voter response was “overwhelming”, as shown by the numerous petition boxes behind him, some stacked almost reaching the ceiling.  In his words, legalizing marijuana will “expand the envelope of freedom in Arizona, expand the role of limited government, and frankly, provide tens of millions of dollars of revenue to our public schools, while, at the same time, ending the draconian and failed policies of prohibition.”

But opponents warn the initiative would open up a Pandora’s box of recreational abuse. Josh Kredit with Center for Arizona Policy doesn’t buy arguments the initiative will keep marijuana out of children’s hands. He says marijuana is already being marketed to children in Colorado by way of pot-laced candy that’s freely accessible. Kredit also predicts the revenue gains reaped from Arizona’s  recreational marijuana will be offset with increasing public health and safety costs in the way of increased traffic and workplace accidents, crime and rehab expenses.

Secretary of State Michele Reagan is in the process of certifying the petitions.

–Barbara Villa