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Arizona’s Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol is Back in Court

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The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Arizona has made its way to the November ballot – only to find their accomplishment challenged in the courts. The opposition, a group called Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, were given a ruling by Superior Court Judge Jo Lynn Gentry that should have put the issue to rest. The judge’s interpretation of a 2015 provision that makes it so that citizens cannot challenge ballot initiatives was the main reason to dismiss the case – but the individual arguments against the initiative were also dismissed.

Of course, no anti-legalization group would give up just like that (then again, neither would activists, MILegalize is still fighting for the ballot, for example) – instead they are appealing the Superior Court Judge’s decision and are looking to the Supreme Court to make a final decision. Considering the Secretary of State must have the voter’s informative pamphlet ready by September 1st, the Supreme Court is expected to make a ruling before then.

While Arizonans for Drug Free Policy await a Supreme Court decision, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol is busy in court for a whole different reason. They are suing the state, and their complaint is that the voter publicity pamphlet’s description of Proposition 205 is misleading and that it will impact voter decisions.

“The publication of a publicity pamphlet and general election ballot containing false and misleading information will irreparably injure the Plaintiffs and all Arizona voters,” the complaint states.

The description reads that individuals “over 21” would legally be allowed to carry, manufacture, transport or give away marijuana. It also does not accurately reflect how it would change laws (for example, adult use of cannabis in public) and does not describe where taxes collected on recreational sales would be allocated. The campaign is arguing that it should read “21 and over” to avoid confusion as to the legal age for possession and consumption – and most importantly is that it should include where tax revenue will be spent.

Out of all the initiatives on the ballot there were 13 that would create new revenue and out of those 13 there were 11 with accurate descriptions of where the tax money will be allocated – and the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol wants to see Proposition 205 outlined in the same manner. Currently the description in the pamphlet reads that the initiative would “levy a 15% tax on all marijuana and marijuana products” – the campaign wants it to include that those taxes would go towards K-12 school operations and maintenance as well as all-day kindergarten programs.

Again, courts will only have until September 1st to make a ruling on both of these cases in order to get the pamphlet printed and distributed on time. This only gives them a couple of days – though it seems safe to say that Proposition 205 will still be on the November ballot, whether or not the courts will decide to revise the wording in the pamphlet is anyone’s guess right now. The campaign did submit an alternative description – so maybe that will be enough and the courts will allow a revising before the pamphlet makes it to voters.

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