Could money for teacher pay raises in Arizona come from legalized marijuana?

- Governor Doug Ducey has promised Arizona teachers a raise, and he has called on state lawmakers to make it happen, as part of a new budget.

The question is: where will the money come from?

One idea being floated is potential tax revenue from the legalization of recreational marijuana. A bill that would legalize recreational marijuana in the state was all but dead in the State Legislature this session, but it might be getting new life.

"It's not going to solve the entire issue," said State Rep. Mark Cardenas (D-Phoenix). "I think it's $680 million that we need to come up with, and this would take care of 150 of that, but this is a significant portion."

State Rep. Cardenas teamed up with Tucson Republican Todd Clodfelter on a proposal that Cardenas says could generate $150 million more that the state doesn't currently have, and it could be a part of budget talks.

"I think the appetite of the state, of the governor, of the legislature, is to find the money we need for the raises," said State Rep. Cardenas.

It will, however, still be a tough sell. The group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy says no way.

"The suggestion out there that somehow legalizing a substance that we know directly hurts kids in order to help teachers is nonsense, and I hope the teachers would be appalled as well," said Chairwoman Sheila Polk, in a phone interview.

"Regardless of what people's motivations are, I want to get it done, whether it's someone that wants it simply as a revenue source, criminal justice, or me that believes that cannabis has health benefits, that's how legislation works," said State Rep. Cardenas.

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