Arizona Pot Ballot OK’d|With Minor Change

     PHOENIX (CN) — An Arizona state judge agreed with just one of three arguments from proponents of a Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, who say the state put inaccurate language on the “Yes” ballot for the initiative.
     The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol challenged three statements on the ballot language for Proposition 205, in an Aug. 29 lawsuit against the state in Maricopa County Court.
     The Campaign, sponsored by the Marijuana Policy Project, claimed the ballot language misrepresented the age at which it would be legal to grow, use, possess and buy marijuana; falsely stated that violations are misdemeanors, though some can be felonies; and that it lacks information on how the state will spend tax revenue from marijuana sales.
     Voters need access to correct information to make informed decisions, campaign spokesman Barrett Marson said.
     “Accuracy: is that not important? Is that not something we should strive for?” he asked.
     Superior Court Judge James Blomo agreed at an Aug. 31 hearing that the “over the age of 21” language could mislead voters and should be revised to “21 years of age and older.”
     But Blomo sided with the secretary of state, who crafts the language, and the attorney general, who reviews it, on the other two points.
     The Campaign’s lawsuit said that “explicit language” in Prop. 205 classifies unlicensed manufacture of marijuana by chemical extraction as a Class 6 felony; and that “possession, use, manufacture or transport of marijuana in quantities exceeding 2.5 ounces remain felony offenses.”
     But Blomo found the state’s language — that “minor violations” would be considered “petty offense(s)” — neither false nor misleading.
     He sided with the state on taxes, too.
     “The omission of language specifying the required uses of the taxes and fees generated by the initiative as misleading falls squarely in the Secretary of State’s purview,” Blomo wrote. “The court does not find that the omission of the language is false or clearly misleading.”
     Neither Reagan nor Brnovich could be reached for comment.
     Blomo ruled on the same day the Arizona Supreme Court affirmed a ruling to keep Prop. 205 on the November ballot. Opponents claimed that it violated state law.
     Marson said Blomo’s ruling means his group will have to redouble its voter-education efforts.
     “We’ll spend a lot of this campaign talking about where the tax money goes, specifically, to education,” he said.
     The proposed 15 percent tax on legal marijuana sales would generate an estimated $113 million in Arizona each year, according to the Tax Foundation in Washington, D.C. The independent group based those figures on marijuana tax collections in Colorado and Washington state, where recreational marijuana is legal.
     More than 258,000 voters signed a petition to put Prop. 205 on the Arizona ballot. At least 177,000 signatures were deemed valid, more than the 151,000 required.
     The measure would allow people 21 years old and older to carry an ounce of marijuana for private use and grow up to six plants. As in other states that have legalized marijuana, licensed businesses could produce and sell cannabis.
     Arizona voters’ opinions about marijuana legalization have been mixed.
     In June, a Rocky Mountain Poll by the Behavior Research Center found that 53 percent of Arizonans supported marijuana legalization for personal use, while 39 percent opposed it.
     But in a poll by O.H. Predictive Insights, released in July, 52.5 percent of those surveyed opposed the recreational marijuana measure, while 39 percent supported it and 8.5 percent were undecided.
     An earlier poll, released in April by Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, found that 49 percent of voters rejected legalization, while 43 percent supported it.

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