HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Lawsuit Seeks To Keep Recreational Marijuana Off AZ Ballot
Pubdate: Wed, 22 Jul 2020
Source: Arizona Daily Star (Tucson, AZ)
Copyright: 2020 Arizona Daily Star
Author: Howard Fischer


PHOENIX - Foes of legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana in
Arizona are trying to keep the issue from going to voters in November.

Legal papers filed in Maricopa County Superior Court contend the
legally required 100-word description misled people into signing the
petition to put the issue on the ballot. Issues range from the
definition of "marijuana" to how the law would affect driving while

The lawsuit comes as a new survey Tuesday finds widespread support for
the proposal a=80" with more than 6 out of every 10 likely voters saying
they will support it if it is on the ballot. Pollster Mike Noble of OH
Predictive Insights said the query of 600 likely voters found that
just 32% say they're definitely opposed.

But the question of public support could be moot if former Congressman
John Shadegg, representing Arizonans for Health and Public Safety,
succeeds in convincing judges that the measure is not legally fit for
a public vote.

The initiative, dubbed the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, would allow
adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or 5 grams of
concentrate. Possession of up to 2.5 ounces would be considered
civil offenses, only becoming a misdemeanor on a third or subsequent

Current law classifies possession or sale of marijuana in any amount
as a felony. The only exception is for the more than 245,000 Arizonans
who have a doctor's recommendation that allows them to purchase up to
2.5 ounces of the drug every two weeks.

Shadegg said there are a lot of things missing from the description.

One, he said, is that it does not inform signers that they would be
redefining marijuana to include not just the leaves and flowers but to
extracted resin which is more potent and, under current law, legally
defined as "cannabis."

"The summary misled signatories and will mislead voters who may
support the legalization of marijuana but not the more potent forms of
cannabis," Shadegg wrote.

He also finds fault with the claim that the initiative, if approved,
would require a showing that someone is impaired "to the slightest
degree" to be convicted of driving under the influence of drugs.

The problem, Shadegg said, is that current law makes it a crime for
someone to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of marijuana or
cannabis, or even an active metabolite of the drug. This would add a
requirement for prosecutors to also prove the person was impaired.

Shadegg also finds fault with a provision levying a 16% excise tax on
the drug, saying it does not tell people that can never be altered
except by taking the issue back to the ballot. And he said it also
fails to point out that people can grow up to six marijuana plants for
themselves without paying the tax.

Campaign chairman Chad Campbell called the lawsuit "ludicrous."

He said foes are trying to use the courts to make the arguments that
should be made to voters. And Campbell, a former state legislator,
said the 100-word description was never meant to be a point-by-point
analysis of everything in the initiative.

Campbell also has a theory about why foes are trying to kill the
measure in court.

"This is a desperate grasp from a group that can't afford to run a
campaign," he said. "So they're trying to do anything they can to keep
it off the ballot and prevent the voters of Arizona from having their

A similar measure in 2016 failed by about 4 percentage points amid an
expensive campaign amid claims that adult access would lead to great
teen use and more accidents. Foes spent $6.1 million at the time, with
much of that coming from the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

This year, however, the business group may find its hands full a=80" and
its resources drained a=80" by two other high-profile measures it hopes
to kill. One would impose a surcharge on incomes above $250,000 for
individuals to provide more cash for K-12 schools; the other would
mandate pay hikes for hospital workers.

And at this point, the chamber isn't promising anything.

"We will assess our financial commitment once we know exactly which
initiatives will appear on the November ballot," said spokesman
Garrick Taylor. There are legal efforts underway to block votes on
both the tax and hospital proposals.

The filing of 420,000 signatures by Smart and Safe Arizona is far more
than the 237,645 valid signatures needed to send the issue to voters.
That provides plenty of wiggle room if some of the petitions are
declared invalid. Local news Ruling against online signatures leaves
several Arizona initiative drives out of luck Updated Jul 21, 2020

Groups still trying to put measures on the November ballot will need
to get signatures the face-to-face way despite COVID-19 pandemic.
Local news Several Arizona initiative campaigns suspend signature
gathering due to coronavirus Updated Jul 21, 2020

As a result, they are unlikely to have enough petition signatures to
qualify for the November ballot.A A Marijuana Report: Arizona medical
pot usage doubles in last two years Updated Jul 21, 2020

The most recent figures show there are close to 220,000 people who
have medical marijuana cards allowing them to legally purchase the
drug. Local news Slew of GOP-led measures would make ballot
initiatives more difficult in Arizona Updated Jul 21, 2020

Any that pass Legislature would still require voter approval in
November. Local news Proposal would allow medical marijuana use for
autism in Arizona
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