The Coronavirus pandemic has ground the world to a complete halt. All but the most essential businesses have been closed and people are instructed to stay indoors and practice social distancing. Not only has the pandemic put a ton of strain on healthcare systems around the world, but it has also made most economic, social and political activities virtually impossible.
Drug legalization campaigns have been especially hit. With most people under lockdown to prevent the spread of the virus, signature collecting has been put on hold. However, activists in Arizona have petitioned the Supreme Court to allow electronic signature gathering. The measure to legalize marijuana is backed by Smart and Safe Arizona, and the group filed a petition requesting that the Supreme Court direct the Secretary of State to let them collect signatures digitally.
Fortunately, the state already has the necessary infrastructure in place. Residents can use a system called E-QuaL to sign ballot petitions for individual candidates, and activists argue that it can be redirected into collecting signatures. They claim that limiting the E-QuaL system to office-seekers is unconstitutional. However, since state law says that it can only be used for that purpose, we will have to wait for the Court’s decision.
“Legal access to E-QuaL for these citizen initiatives is the right thing for public health and democracy. Following Governor Doug Ducey’s stay at home order issued Monday and current CDC recommendations, gathering hundreds of thousands of signatures on paper, at people’s homes or in public spaces is impossible to do safely and responsibly during this pandemic. E-QuaL is a very reasonable remedy,” said a statement from the groups’ attorneys.
Although the state requires 237,645 signatures for statutory proposals, Arizona’s marijuana campaign has already collected more than 320,000. However, they have yet to be verified, and activists would like to continue collecting signatures to make sure their measure qualifies for the ballot.
The legalization measure would allow individuals 21 and older to possess up to an ounce of marijuana at a time and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. Cannabis sales would be taxed at 26%, and the tax revenue would be allocated to community colleges, developing infrastructure, justice reinvestment and public services such as firefighters and police.
It also contains several restrictive justice provisions such as individuals with prior marijuana convictions to petition the courts to have their records expunged as well as establishing a social equity ownership program.
It would be interesting to hear what cannabis industry actors like Plus Products Inc. (CSE: PLUS) (OTCQX: PLPRF) think of the likelihood of the highest court in Arizona granting the request of the petitioners to collect electronic signatures in support of their cause.
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