Arizona Supremes: Recreational Cannabis Remains on the Ballot

By Hilary Corrigan
Aug 20, 2020

Arizona’s REC proposal can stay on the ballot in November’s general election.

The initiative had faced a lawsuit from several individuals and a group opposed to REC. Plaintiffs had challenged the wording of the summary signature collectors used to earn a place on the ballot. A trial court’s earlier ruling called for keeping the measure on the ballot. Plaintiffs appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court. A Thursday order from that high court upheld the trial court’s ruling. 

Represented by former Arizona Congressman John Shadegg (R), legalization opponents had sued Arizona Secretary of State Katie Hobbs (D) and Smart and Safe Arizona, the organization leading the initiative, in state court last month. The plaintiffs—including several individuals and a group called Arizonans for Health and Public Safety—focused on the statement petition circulators showed to potential signers.

They argued that the 100-word summary left out key information such as what exactly the measure would legalize and how its associated taxes would work. The suit also questioned the impact the measure would have on employer drug tests and DUI rules, among other issues.

In its short Thursday order, Arizona’s high court noted that “the trial court concluded the 100-word summary accurately described the proposition…and denied Petitioners’ request” to block the initiative. The Supreme Court “unanimously affirms the judgment of the trial court.”

The order calls for Arizona’s Secretary of State to include the initiative in the general election publicity pamphlet and to place it on the general election ballot.

Up to voters now

“We’re thrilled. It’s exactly what we expected,” said Stacy Pearson, spokesperson for Smart and Safe Arizona and a senior vice president at public affairs firm Strategies 360. “We knew our 100-word summary was clear and we are thrilled.”

In a press release, Lisa James, chairwoman of Arizonans for Health and Public Safety, said the group was disappointed in the decision that “sets a concerning precedent for our voter initiative process.”

Shadegg stated that the ruling sends the message to voters that they cannot trust the 100-word summary. “Big Marijuana sought to deceive Arizona voters and got away with it,” he stated.

The group urged voters to take “a close look at all 17 pages” of the initiative, warning that it would “harm our kids, put us at more risk on the road, hurt Arizona’s economy, and lock us into bad policy.”

“We’re confident that once informed, Arizonans will reject this in November,” the group stated.

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