The debate over legal marijuana in Arizona is a dog fight right now, with both sides doing a lot of growling. While pro-cannabis group Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Arizona has just turned in the signatures required to get their measure on the ballot, the anti-cannabis folk are suing them, claiming that their methods to gather signatures misrepresented the proposed measure to the extent that it “amount[ed] to fraud on the voters.”

The CRMLAA has no time to spare looking for a better acronym; it’s too busy with its aggressive marketing campaign, both in prolific social media accounts and now taking an usual tactic on billboards. One they’ve thrown up above the streets of Tempe makes the case that, “If Arizona regulates marijuana, adults could buy American and support schools, not cartels,” as reported by the Daily Mail.”


Cartels are very much on the mind of Arizona voters, as the infamously brutal Sinaloa cartel sets up shop just across the Mexican border. CRMLAA (CREMLAA? Creme-de-la?) would put the proceeds of its proposed 15 percent marijuana sales tax toward schools and education, which does sound nicer than lining the pockets of murderous drug lords.

The pro-legalization group even has an ex-DEA big wig on their side, backing their claim. Michael Capasso, a Drug Enforcement Administration agent who served as chief of the Financial Crimes Unit for three years before retiring last year, says, “I know from personal experience that the illegal status of marijuana in the United States helps to fuel demand for marijuana produced by drug cartels in Mexico.”

Capasso headed a task force in Phoenix which went after cartels smuggling narcotics across the US-Mexico border. “If we truly hope to eliminate the criminal element associated with marijuana, the only solution is to make marijuana legal and tightly regulate its production and sale,” he says, obviously as skilled at forming sound bites as at combatting bad guys. “I am supporting the Arizona initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol because it will make our communities safer. Marijuana should be sold by licensed businesses, not drug cartels.”

It ought to be noted that news from the Daily Mail ought to be treated with a little skepticism. The same UK rag has also claimed that weed mutates genes and causes cancer, but they always cite sources (sometimes those sources just suck and are never verified). In this case, the story can be vetted by Merry Jane, which ran similar information recently. The image of the billboard above came from the Daily Mail’s article.

In summation, the Daily Mail is right sometimes, drug cartels are bad, ex-DEA dude Michael Capasso seems chill, both pro and anti-marijuana groups in Arizona are decidedly not chill, and the CRMLAA still needs a better acronym.


Photo via Flickr user Dank Depot