Arizona Judge Clears Way for Cannabis
A judge in Arizona threw out a legal challenge on Friday to a November ballot initiative through which the state’s voters will decide whether to legalize recreational cannabis.
Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Jo Lynn Gentry dismissed the challenge to the ballot initiative, saying that the state Legislature in 2015 limited lawsuits that allowed citizens to challenge whether ballot initiatives were legal.
The opponents of the ballot measure — a group called Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, which included the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and Industry, as well as prominent attorneys from several Arizona counties — also objected to what they saw as deception on the part of the initiative’s backers. They charged that the 100-word petition summary did not adequately convey the effects that the proposed law would have on state laws. They also claimed that the ways in which proponents
That assertion was rejected by Judge Gentry, who said that the 100-word summary was in keeping with state law and that those who crafted the initiative had “no ability to prepare a summary that would comply with the 100-word limit and with their objections.”
Opponents also claimed that the ways in which proponents sought to persuade voters were misleading and dishonest.
J.P. Holyoak, the campaign chairperson of the pro-ballot Initiative Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, expressed pleasure with Judge Gentry’s ruling.
“This was a frivolous and politically motivated lawsuit. If these county prosecutors dislike this ballot measure, they should take their arguments to the voters, not to our overburdened court system,” he said. “We hope they will accept the court’s ruling and return to waging legal battles against dangerous criminals rather than citizen initiatives.”
“It’s trying to deny people the right to vote on an issue,” he continued, referring to the opposition group’s lawsuit. “That’s wrong.”
Along with Arizona, four other states will have recreational cannabis measures on their ballots this November. They include Maine, California, Massachusetts, and Nevada.
Arizona’s ballot measure would allow those 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis for personal use; they could also grow up to six marijuana plants — keeping that which was cultivated for themselves — and have up to one dozen plants per residence.
Recent developments in Arizona have found that the state could benefit substantially from the legalization of recreational cannabis: One recent study carried out by the state’s Joint Legislative Budget Committee, found that the state could generate over $81 million in tax revenue over the next four years if the substance is legalized.
A June court case in Arizona also provided momentum to pro-cannabis observers and activists when it determined that petitioners should granted a hearing in their pursuit of allowing medical cannabis access to sufferers of Parkinson’s Disease.
Despite Arizona’s evolution regarding cannabis, the state’s voters may not yet be on board for legalizing the substance for recreational use. A poll conducted in April found 43 percent of the state’s likely voters to be supportive of the measure, with 49 saying that they would vote against it.
The ruling by Judge Gentry is expected to be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court shortly.