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Panel to Review AZ Initiative on Legalizing Marijuana

A public-policy think tank is holding a three-day forum to analyze the issues surrounding legalization of recreational marijuana in Arizona. (Morguefile)
A public-policy think tank is holding a three-day forum to analyze the issues surrounding legalization of recreational marijuana in Arizona. (Morguefile)
August 12, 2016

PHOENIX - A public-policy think tank at Arizona State University (ASU) is holding a Citizens Initiative Review (CIR) this weekend to analyze the issues that surround legalizing recreational marijuana in Arizona. The group said its goal is to provide Arizona voters with a fact-based guide to the issues.

Andrea Whitsett, associate director of ASU's Morrison Institute for Public Policy, said its CIR will analyze a wide variety of opinions about legalizing marijuana.

"They end up crafting what we call our Citizens' Statement," she said. "And the Citizens' Statement provides their fellow voters with key findings on the measure and what they have determined to be the strongest and most reliable arguments, both pro and con."

Whitsett said key backers and opponents of the ballot initiative, along with a group of independent experts, will present evidence-based information to a panel of voters, chosen to represent a cross-section of Arizonans. She said the process is similar to a trial, as both sides make their case to the citizens' panel.

She said the event, which takes place over three days in Phoenix, is sponsored by the Arizona Citizens Clean Elections Commission. The resulting Citizens' Statement and other information will be posted on the Commission's website as a reference for voters.

"A new resource for voters that cuts through a lot of the noise and propaganda that can come out during the election cycle, and giving voters a more fact-based, nonpartisan resource that they can trust," she explained.

Whitsett added the Institute chose the CIR process because it's designed to give voters information, not influence their choices. The event is open to the public.

Mark Richardson, Public News Service - AZ