Anti-Marijuana Campaign Files Suit to Block Arizona Legalization

Published on July 12, 2016 · Last updated July 28, 2020

PHOENIX (AP) — Opponents of the campaign to legalize recreational cannabis in Arizona filed a lawsuit Monday asking a judge to bar the initiative from the November ballot.

Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy argue that legalization backers are deceiving voters while pitching the measure.

The motion seeking a preliminary injunction alleges that the petition sheets distributed to voters for their signatures are invalid because they omit information about the initiative's full effect.

The suit was brought by 13 groups and individuals including Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery and Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk.

Election officials still are verifying whether the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted the 150,000 valid signatures needed to qualify for the ballot. The group says it collected more than 250,000 signatures and submitted the petitions June 30 to the Arizona Secretary of State's Office.

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Polk said "the signature gathering process failed to comply with Arizona's constitutional requirements to such an extent that it amounts to a fraud on the voters."

Montgomery, also in a statement, said he was concerned by the changes the initiative would make to DUI laws and its effect on safety and communities.

J.P. Holyoak, chairman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, said the lawsuit allegations are a "desperate attempt" to deprive Arizona voters of the right to decide the question.

"Our opponents are going to great lengths to continue punishing adults for using a substance that is less harmful than alcohol," he said.

A court hearing is scheduled for July 19.

Under the measure, adults age 21 and older could carry up to one ounce of cannabis and consume it privately. Adults could also cultivate up to six plants in an enclosed space and possess cannabis produced by the plants. No more than a dozen plants total would be allowed in a single residence.

The system would regulate cannabis like alcohol, with a 15 percent tax imposed on all retail marijuana sales. Most of the revenue from that tax would go to Arizona schools and education programs.

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