vote Photo by Erik Hersman, Creative Commons.

Plus two other Arizona stories.

Arizona residents planning to participate in the Democratic Presidential Presidential Preference Election on March 17 have until Wednesday to register to vote.

Voters will be asked to decide between the 11 Democratic candidates running for President. Seven candidates who qualified to be on Arizona’s Presidential Preference ballot have since withdrawn but may still appear on the official ballot. The Democratic Party is the only political party in the state to hold Presidential Preference elections this year.

Only voters registered as members of the Democratic Party by Feb. 18 will be allowed to vote in the March 17 election. Early voting runs Feb. 19 through March 13. Arizona residents can check and update their voter registration status at the Secretary of State’s website or in-person at their County Recorder’s office.

Republicans warm up to recreational marijuana

Growing support for a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona is prompting lawmakers to rethink their position on legalizing the drug through the legislative process.

Rep. Travis Grantham, R-Gilbert, told the Arizona Mirror he is confident that voters will approve Smart and Safe Arizona’s marijuana legalization initiative, should it qualify for the November ballot. Grantham wants to avoid constitutional protections given to voter-approved laws by legalizing marijuana at the legislature.

To start the process, Grantham allowed testimony in favor of legalization bill HB 2657 during the Regulatory Affairs Committee hearing on Feb 10. The committee did not vote on the bill, a step that would need to be taken before it could receive a vote on the House floor.

Democratic leader visits Phoenix ahead of March debate

Democratic National Party chairman Tom Perez came to Phoenix Monday, less than a week after announcing that the party’s next debate between presidential candidates will be held in Phoenix.

Perez met with local officials – including Phoenix Mayor Kate Gallego, Rep. Raquel Terán, D-Phoenix, – and Phoenix voters at the Carpenters Local Union 1912, the Arizona Republic reports. Perez led a roundtable discussion where he criticized President Donald Trump’s record on health care.

“He promised to make prescription drugs cheaper, and that hasn’t happened because he refuses to stand up to the pharmaceutical industry,” Perez said. “He repeatedly promised he would not cut Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security. You look at the budget in 2021, the proposed budget that they submitted last week does exactly that.”

Perez will be back in Phoenix for the Democratic Presidential Debate on March 15, two days before the state’s Presidential Preference Election. A venue for the debate has not been announced.