Pro-Pot Group Decries Lies|in California Ballot Bid

     SACRAMENTO, Calif. (CN) — As California voters mull over legalizing recreational marijuana in November, pot advocates accuse U.S. Sen. Diane Feinstein and a host of powerful lobbyists of submitting false arguments against Proposition 64 to elections officials.
     Prominent drug law reform attorney Graham Boyd says Feinstein, the California Association of Highway Patrolmen and the California Hospital Association and others signed off on false ballot arguments that are set to appear in millions of voter guides this fall.
     Filing on behalf of the Yes on Proposition 64 campaign, Boyd sued the opponents Thursday in Sacramento County Superior Court, asking a judge to order California Secretary of State Alex Padilla to remove the challenged statements before the voter guides are finalized on Aug. 15.
     At issue are claims made by the opponents that, if passed, Prop 64 would repeal marijuana laws recently passed by Gov. Jerry Brown as well as allow pot candies to be marketed to children through television advertisements.
     “Children will be exposed to ads promoting marijuana gummy candy and brownies — the same products blamed for a spike in emergency room visits in Colorado,” the ballot argument against Prop 64 states. Another argument claims the proposal “rolls back the total prohibition of smoking ads on TV.”
     In a No on Proposition 64 campaign statement in July, Feinstein said the initiative “allows marijuana smoking ads in prime time, on programs with millions of children and teenage viewers.”
     The political fact-checking website Politifact California says Feinstein’s claims are “mostly false.”
     “The experts we spoke with say California’s Prop 64 will not lift the legal cloud of uncertainty by itself. Feinstein’s statement goes too far,” Politifact’s researchers claim.
     According to proponents of legalizing marijuana, the arguments against are speculative and potentially distracting to California voters, proponents argue. In his lawsuit, Boyd notes that Prop 64 prohibits the marketing of weed products to people under 21 and that it wouldn’t be exempt from federal laws that ban the advertisement of controlled substances.
     “Proposition 64 cannot, as a matter of law, ‘roll back’ or ‘overturn’ these federal laws, or ‘exempt’ any conducts from these federal laws,” the complaint states.
     The lawsuit challenges four statements submitted by the opponents for the November voter guide. Yes on Proposition 64 spokesman Jason Kinney accused the critics of pushing “scare tactics.”
     “Defenders of the failed war on marijuana are entitled to their own opinions but not their own facts,” Kinney said in a statement. “More so than any I’ve seen in recent memory, the ballot arguments submitted with a straight face by the opponents fundamentally and factually misrepresent this ballot measure and are riddled with obvious falsehoods.”
     If approved by voters, Prop 64 would legalize the sale and use of recreational pot and tax commercial and retail sales. The regulators currently overseeing California’s medical marijuana industry would be responsible for monitoring the legalization transition.
     The proposal is one of 17 qualified statewide measures on California’s crowded November ballot. If enacted, marijuana taxes could generate up to $1 billion in revenues, the state’s Legislative Analyst estimates.
     The legalization campaign has been bolstered by seven-figure donations from former Facebook president Sean Parker and the support of California Lt. Gov Gavin Newsom and U.S. Rep Dana Rohrabacher, R-Costa Mesa. The California Medical Association is also supporting Prop 64.
     The opponents are primarily made up of law enforcement and labor groups, namely the California Police Chiefs Association and the California Teamsters Union. They argue that the proposed legalization model doesn’t go far enough to protect children from advertisements and encourages the use of a dangerous “gateway drug.”
     Boyd and the Yes on Proposition 64 campaign are represented by Richard Miadich of Olson Hagel & Fishburn in Sacramento.
     Also named in the petition are California State Printer Jerry Hill, California Association of Highway Patrolmen president Doug Villars, California Hospital Association president C. Duane Dauner, Katie Dexter, John Quintanilla and Cynthia Ruiz.

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