Arizona’s largest newspaper endorsed the ballot initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state on Sunday, writing that “the moment has come to correct the mistake” of prohibition made decades ago. The endorsement of Proposition 207 by the editorial board of the Arizona Republic comes as early voting for the November 3rd general election begins in the state this week.

“The Arizona Republic recommends passage of Prop. 207 because we need to right an historic wrong — to decriminalize marijuana use and put the responsibility back on individuals to choose wisely when it comes to low-grade substances such as marijuana and alcohol,” the newspaper’s editorial board wrote.

With a circulation of approximately 130,000, the Phoenix-based Arizona Republic is the state’s largest newspaper, giving its generally conservative viewpoint and endorsements considerable clout with the electorate. The editorial board wrote that legalizing cannabis is inevitable and that doing so will correct an overreach of government authority made long ago.

“It will be legal because the United States made a mistake when it chose to employ criminal law to control marijuana use — an improper use of the government’s most muscular authority,” they wrote. “Now we’re in the process of a state-by-state correction.”

Initiative Legalizes Adult-Use Cannabis

Under Prop. 207, possession of up to one ounce of cannabis would be legalized for adults 21 and older, who would also be permitted to grow up to six cannabis plants at home. The initiative also establishes a system for the regulation and taxation of commercial cannabis, with revenue raised earmarked for several public education and safety programs. The editorial board noted that all of Arizona’s neighbors, including Mexico, are on the path toward cannabis legalization.

“California legalized recreational marijuana four years ago. New Mexico’s governor won election in part on the promise to legalize,” they wrote. “Colorado pushed the lever in 2012, and our sisters and brethren due north legalized medical marijuana two years ago. When LDS Utah legalizes marijuana, it’s game over.”

Even with the push for further legalization all around, the Arizona legislature failed to act on calls to legalize recreational pot. That inaction led to Prop. 207, which was written primarily by the state’s medical marijuana industry, a fact the editorial board considers less than ideal.

“But state lawmakers have had plenty of time to get in front of the parade and design the regulatory environment for the inevitable legalization of pot,” they insist. “Over and over they have refused to do so. It’s time to get on with it.”

A Less Than Wholehearted Endorsement

The Arizona Republic’s support for Prop. 207 doesn’t come without reservation from the editorial board, who humorously albeit naively proclaim “we’re no cheerleaders for huffing weed.”

They add that the initiative is “a sweetheart deal for the existing marijuana industry, because it was written by the industry. Nor are we fooled by the promise of multimillion-dollar budget windfalls.”

However, with a majority of Arizonans in favor of legalization, according to public opinion polls, it’s time for the law to reflect the will of the people.

“Consensus continues to grow in this state and nation that we were wrong to criminalize marijuana. The moment has come to correct the mistake.”

“The Arizona Republic recommends Arizonans vote “yes” on Prop. 207,” the editorial board concluded.

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