Cannabis legalization activists in Arizona can finally breathe easy after a judge dismissed a lawsuit claiming that their recreational cannabis legalization measure was unfit for the November ballot. Last month, Arizonans for Health and Public Safety filed a lawsuit arguing that the measure wasn’t accurately described in the 100-word summary included in the petitions that voters signed. The group said that plenty of information was left out of the summary, denying voters all the information they needed to make an informed decision.
On Friday, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge rejected the claims that the 100 word summary on the initiative excluded the measure’s principal provisions. The judge, a Gov. Doug Ducey appointee, ruled that voters who signed the initiative had not been misled and that the measure could be on the ballot. “At 100 words, the summary also cannot include everything. That is why the full initiative must accompany the petition.”
He also chided foes of the initiative for suggesting that voters in Arizona might not be able to understand the implications of the measure’s provisions such as changing laws on advertising and altering regulations on driving under the influence of drugs. “This initiative is plain. It wants to legalize recreational marijuana. That is the principal provision,” wrote Smith in a 15-page ruling. “It is unlikely electors signing these petitions would be surprised by cascading effects of legalizing a formerly illegal substance.”
Arizonans for Health and Public Safety chairperson Lisa James, who filed the lawsuit with “eight concerned Arizona voters,” says an appeal is likely. Although the recreational cannabis legalization measure promises to direct substantial funds collected from sales tax towards community development, James says the summary failed to provide crucial details. This includes the fact that the measure would legalize more concentrated resins as well as cannabis flower.
She also claimed that the summary did not make it clear that if the measure became law, people could legally drive with metabolites of marijuana in their system, with the test being whether they were “impaired to the slightest degree.” However, according to Smith, that is irrelevant. He pointed out court cases that already say that medical marijuana patients with marijuana metabolites in their blood, evidence of earlier usage, cannot be convicted of driving under the influence of drugs unless they show evidence of impairment.
“An elector signing a petition to legalize recreational marijuana would likely be surprised if the initiative did not decriminalize driving with any amount of metabolite in one’s system.”
Industry watchers say the ruling in this case is likely to give the entire cannabis industry, including The Alkaline Water Company Inc. (NASDAQ: WTER) (CSE: WTER), since it removes a possible barrier to giving people in Arizona a chance to decide whether marijuana should be legalized or not.
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