Up In Smoke? Anti-Marijuana Campaign Wants Legalization Measure Tossed

AZ Central reports:

Opponents of the campaign to legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona filed a lawsuit Monday, asking a judge to bar the initiative from the November ballot.

The lawsuit comes as elections officials are verifying whether the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot. The lawsuit was brought by 13 individuals and groups, including Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery, Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk,  the Arizona Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Republican Rep. Paul Boyer, a Tempe school board member, and others.

The measure would ask Arizona voters to legalize cannabis for recreational use and establish licensed shops that would tax sales of the drug, similar to the system established in Colorado. Among other things, the Regulation and Taxation of Marijuana Act would allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana and grow up to six plants in their homes.

“We make some very strong arguments we look forward to having the court review,” attorney Brett Johnson told The Arizona Republic.

A spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which was reviewing the complaint, said the allegations are frivolous.

“Our opponents have demonstrated that they are willing to do and say just about anything to maintain the failed policy of marijuana prohibition,” chairman J.P. Holyoak wrote in a statement. “This lawsuit is simply a desperate attempt to deprive Arizona voters of the right to vote on this ballot question. Our opponents are going to great lengths to continue punishing adults for using a substance that is less harmful than alcohol.”

The lawsuit argues that marijuana-legalization backers are deceiving voters in how they are pitching the measure.

“Because the Initiative is facially deficient and contrary to Arizona law, the Court should protect Arizona’s voters and the legislative process from a fraudulent effort meant to upend a wide range of public safety, employment, landlord, child welfare, and other laws,” the motion for preliminary injunction states.

The motion alleges that the petition sheets distributed to voters for their signatures are invalid because they omit information about the initiative’s full effect. It cites issues ranging from public safety and employment laws to the rights of private land owners.

“The Initiative’s petition summary is fatally misleading because it does not reveal or even hint at the Initiative’s mass effect on many different areas of Arizona law,” the motion states.

While the initiative purports to regulate cannabis like alcohol, for example, it actually proposes to regulate marijuana “more leniently than alcohol,” the motion alleges, because it would prohibit the state from punishing drivers solely because of the presence of marijuana in their system.

“If Plaintiff’s injunction is not granted, an unconstitutional and illegal initiative will be placed on the ballot,” the lawsuit states. “Arizona voters will then have to assess and vote on the Initiative without the statutorily required information, which could allow them to pass an initiative that cannot properly become law.”

The initial order to show cause hearing is set for July 19.

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Richard Lowe

Richard Lowe is a 14-year veteran of the financial sector with licenses as a commodity broker (Series 3) and investment advisor representative (IAR Series 65). Along with a focus on raising capital for the firms he was employed with, he also wrote and edited much of the content published by them. He holds a BA in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts. He has been a longtime advocate for marijuana legalization due to the social injustices associated with marijuana prohibition and the strong potential for the medicinal benefits of cannabis.

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