Pubdate: Tue, 12 Jul 2016
Source: Sun, The (Yuma, AZ)
Copyright: 2016 The Sun
Author: Howard Fischer, Capitol Media Services


PHOENIX - Foes of legalizing marijuana for recreational use in 
Arizona are trying to block voters from getting their say on the measure.

In a lawsuit filed Monday, challengers say the 38-page initiative is 
legally flawed, to the point where it would be illegal to put the 
question on the November ballot.

It specifically says the legally required initiative summary fails to 
tell those who signed the petitions all the different things that the 
measure, if approved, would do. And that, according to the lawsuit, 
means it is "so misleading voters as to cause a fraud on the electorate."

Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, a foe of the measure and 
one of the plaintiffs in the lawsuit, conceded that Arizona law 
allows initiative organizers just 100 words for a summary. And 
Arizona courts have ruled that not every single provision of a 
measure needs to be detailed in those 100 words.

But Montgomery said he still believes this description is so flawed 
as to preclude it from going to voters. "If your summary can't fairly 
encompass everything you've thrown into an initiative, it's probably 
your first indication that your initiative is not going to meet 
constitutional and statutory muster," he said.

The lawsuit also claims that some of what the initiative seeks to do 
is inherently unconstitutional.

Montgomery specifically cited a provision that would give first 
preference to the owners of existing medical marijuana dispensaries 
for the limited number of legal pot shops that the law would initially set up.

"You can't pass a law that gives special advantages to just a 
particular corporation or group or individuals," he said, saying it 
runs afoul of the Gift Clause provision of the Arizona Constitution. 
Montgomery noted that the measure is being pushed and financed in 
part by those who already have medical marijuana dispensaries.

"I think they got greedy in that regard," he said.

The legal filing drew an angry reaction from initiative organizers.

"Our opponents have demonstrated that they are willing to do and say 
just about anything to maintain the failed policy of marijuana 
prohibition," said campaign chairman J.P. Holyoak in a prepared 
statement. "This lawsuit is simply a desperate attempt to deprive 
Arizona voters of the right to vote on this ballot question."

But a spokesman for the pro-legalization campaign said Monday there 
would be no response to the specific legal issues raised in the 
lawsuit until the group's attorneys have more time to study it.

A hearing is set for July 19 in Maricopa County Superior Court.

In 2010 Arizona voters agreed to allow those with certain medical 
conditions and a doctor's recommendation to obtain up to 2 1/2 ounces 
of the drug every two weeks. This measure would allow any adult to 
have up to an ounce of the drug for recreational use.

Individuals could obtain the marijuana from one of what would 
initially be about 150 shops or they could grow their own.

Questions about the adequacy of the summary aside, the lawsuit 
contends the initiative itself is so poorly written as to make it 
unacceptable to go to voters.

Among the changes the initiative would make which Johnson contends 
are not disclosed to voters include:

Overriding current laws that require drug testing of people who get 
certain welfare benefits or unemployment insurance;

Affecting the ability of homeowners' associations to prohibit 
residents from growing marijuana;

Prohibiting courts in child custody cases from making a decision 
based solely on one parent's use of marijuana;

Limiting the ability of local governments to regulate marijuana sales.

Foes also contend even the title of the initiative, the Campaign to 
Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, is misleading because it would not 
subject marijuana use to the same restrictions as alcohol.

Both existing laws on alcohol and the initiative make it illegal to 
drive while impaired. But unlike the drunk-driving laws, there is 
nothing to say at what blood level of marijuana someone would be 
automatically considered impaired.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom