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Second group files paperwork to seek 2016 vote on legalizing pot

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A second group aiming to put marijuana legalization on the 2016 ballot filed paperwork Friday with the Secretary of State’s Office.

Calling itself Arizonans for Responsible Legalization, the group said in a news release it wants to allow adults to purchase small amounts of marijuana for private use and tax marijuana sales to help fund education.

The release lists Gina Berman, identified as an emergency room physician, as leading the effort. Barrett Marson, a spokesman for the group, said Berman is affiliated with a medical marijuana dispensary.

Incorporation records list Gina Berman as secretary of Giving Tree Wellness Center, a dispensary with locations in north Phoenix and Mesa.

A statement attributed to Berman said: “Arizonans for Responsible Legalization is committed to taxing and regulating the marijuana industry while ensuring the greatest benefit to taxpayers and boosting education funding. We look forward to an energetic campaign focused on the public benefits of responsible marijuana regulations.”

A voicemail for Berman left with a phone number listed with the Secretary of State’s Office wasn’t returned by late Friday afternoon.

Marson said Arizonans for Responsible Legalization would begin fundraising and develop proposed ballot language soon.

It’s the second group to register an effort to put marijuana-legalization on the 2016 ballot. The other, Safer Arizona, is coordinating with the Marijuana Policy Project, the group behind the 2010 ballot measure that legalized medical marijuana in Arizona.

Carlos Alfaro, Arizona political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said his organization supports “the most effective scenario possible” to legalize marijuana here.

“We want to establish a good public policy that replaces the underground marijuana market with a system in which marijuana is regulated similarly to alcohol,” Alfaro said.

Seth Leibsohn, chairman of Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, a group registered with the Secretary of State’s Office as opposing efforts to legalize marijuana, said the latest effort is another one to oppose.

“Marijuana is dangerous for adults and for youth,” Leibsohn said. “This drug is dangerous for users who use it in the workplace, around children and on the roads.”