AUSTIN, Texas – An online petition launched by a group of conservative Christian voters has garnered more than 6,500 signatures in support of legalizing marijuana in Arizona, the group said Tuesday.
The petition, launched by Arizona Citizens for a Sound Economy, calls for an end to the criminalization of marijuana, and calls on the Legislature to pass legislation that would allow marijuana use for medical purposes.
A recent report from the Justice Department said there is no evidence to support the argument that marijuana is more harmful than alcohol or tobacco.
The report said marijuana users may have a decreased risk of lung cancer, heart disease and strokes, as well as an increased chance of dying from drug overdoses.
“Our petition urges the Arizona Legislature to end the criminal justice system for non-violent drug offenders,” the petition said.
The petition also says legalizing marijuana would help to reduce the state’s prison population, while also helping to reduce violent crime.
A study released in January found Arizona had the highest number of people in jail for drug crimes.
It also found Arizona ranks the highest in violent crime rates in the country, with 2,631 homicides reported last year.
The Justice Department report, released in June, said that marijuana use among young people has increased in recent years.
It noted that in 2014, about 25 percent of Arizona youth reported using marijuana, compared with 14 percent in 2010.
The report found that a disproportionate number of young people were involved in drug crimes and that the drug epidemic among young adults was exacerbated by the federal crackdown on marijuana sales.