A group opposed to legalizing recreational cannabis in Arizona filed a lawsuit to block a ballot initiative that would regulate an adult-use market in the state.
While the legalization campaign group has gathered more than 420,000 signatures, the lawsuit claims their petition’s 100-word summary statement misled voters by leaving out key information about the initiative.
Several voters with Arizonans for Health and Public Safety, the political group opposed to legalizing cannabis, filed the lawsuit against the Smart & Safe Arizona Act in a state county court on Monday.
In a Tuesday press statement on Twitter, the group claimed that the petition summary failed to tell voters that the bill would legalize potent cannabis concentrates, and change state law on driving under the influence. Further, the group said the bill doesn’t specifically say that a 16 per cent tax on cannabis sales can’t be increased by the state’s Legislature.
“These omissions and statements misled voters who signed the petition about what the initiative would do,” AHPS chairperson Lisa James said in the statement. “There is a reason a small handful of big marijuana businesses spent millions of dollars for Smart & Safe Arizona to gather signatures without actually informing signers of what they were agreeing to.”
BREAKING: 8 plaintiffs and @azhealthysafe file suit against the so-called "Smart & Safe Arizona" initiative, challenging the misleading 100-word statement used by petition circulators. Read the full release below. pic.twitter.com/mAlREtxgUP
— Arizonans for Health and Public Safety (@azhealthysafe) July 21, 2020
According to a campaign finance report, Arizonans for Health and Public Safety received US$50,000 from the Center for Arizona Policy, a conservative group that promotes religious freedom and anti-abortion legislation.
A spokesperson for Safe & Smart Arizona told Phoenix New Times that the lawsuit was a “desperate Hail Mary” by the opposition group in a last-ditch effort to keep the popular measure from making it to the Nov. 3 ballot.
A recent poll shows six out of 10 Arizona voters now support the cannabis legalization measure, with just 32 per cent of respondents opposing it.
The Arizona Secretary of State’s Office said it has reviewed the petition and has deemed that 415,587 or the signatures collected to be eligible for further random sampling. Arizona state rules require 237,645 signatures to get a petition on the November ballot.
If passed, the bill would legalize the sale of cannabis for Arizona adults 21 and over, who could possess up to 28 grams.
20,780 petition signatures have been sent to counties for verification. If at least 11,882 signatures are validated, the initiative will qualify for the ballot. 2/2
— Secretary Katie Hobbs (@SecretaryHobbs) July 21, 2020
Smart & Safe Arizona claims that legalizing recreational pot would help generate US$3 billion in new tax revenue in the first 10 years to support community projects and public health programs.
If the Arizona’s initiative is approved, it would join New Jersey, Mississippi and South Dakota as states with an approved cannabis ballot in the November U.S. election.