The Arizona Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol just turned in their signatures less than two full weeks ago and now they are finding themselves in courts over their wording. Even though the initiative was initially approved to gather signatures and they are now awaiting word on whether or not they had enough signatures to qualify, this is the first time the campaign is finding their initiative in court (though there is a lot of that lately, it seems).
On Monday, the group Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy filed a lawsuit (with thirteen members and two attorneys) that claim the initiative summary does not reasonably reflect the changes that would be brought by the measure; which they claim is fraud against the voters. The summary is a mere 100 words to the 38 page document that completes the initiative – and the Arizona courts have already determined once before that a summary doesn’t have to reflect every individual change documented by an initiative.
However, Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy believe that there is just so much left out, that the voters are not being properly informed before saying yes or no. Their complaints cover things like DUI laws – as it doesn’t state whether or not a positive blood test is enough for arrest; an override to laws that require drug testing for welfare benefits and unemployment insurance; now allowing homeowners associations to ban home cultivation; prohibiting child services from removing children for a parent’s marijuana use; and finally, limiting the local government’s ability to regulate marijuana.
“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,” (Montgomery, attorney with Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy) he said.
On one hand, it seems like this is the year of taking cannabis initiatives to court over technicalities – on the other hand, didn’t this group have plenty of time to file this lawsuit while they were still gathering petitions? The group is awaiting approval on the number of signatures they submitted – which was 100,000 more than necessary; the chances are likely that where signatures are concerned, the group will make the ballot. It’s whether or not the Arizona courts decide that the initiative does its best to have an accurate summary – their court date is set for July 19th.
“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.”
With their court date quickly approaching and the signature count being closer to approved each and every day, it will only be a matter of time before we know if Arizonans will get the chance to vote on marijuana legalization this year. After all the hard work done by the campaign group, we have to hope that the courts see things similarly to how it went down in Massachusetts, where the courts simply revised the wording of the title and summary.