New Nit Picking Lawsuit seeks to keep recreational cannabis off Arizona ballot

Those  who oppose legalizing adult recreational use of marijuana in Arizona are trying to keep the issue from going to voters in November via the courts…Reports The outlet writes….Legal papers just filed in Maricopa County Superior Court contend the legally required 100-word description misled people into signing the petition to put the issue on the ballot. Issues range from the definition of “marijuana” to how the law would affect driving while impaired.

John Shadegg

The lawsuit comes as a new survey Tuesday finds widespread support for the proposal — with more than 6 out of every 10 likely voters saying they will support it if it is on the ballot. Pollster Mike Noble of OH Predictive Insights said the query of 600 likely voters found that just 32% say they’re definitely opposed.

But the question of public support could be moot if former Congressman John Shadegg, representing Arizonans for Health and Public Safety, succeeds in convincing judges that the measure is not legally fit for a public vote.

The initiative, dubbed the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, would allow adults to possess up to an ounce of marijuana or 5 grams of concentrate. Possession of up to 2½ ounces would be considered civil offenses, only becoming a misdemeanor on a third or subsequent violation.

What the Smart & Safe Act Does

In a smart, safe and responsible way, legalizes the sale, possession and consumption of one ounce of marijuana (of which 5 grams can be concentrate) for adults at least 21 years old.

Generates $3 Billion in NEW REVENUE during the first 10 years alone to fund community colleges, public safety, public health programs, and roads and highways.

Bans smoking marijuana in public places like restaurants and open spaces like sidewalks and parks.

Protects children by requiring all packaging be childproof and labeled, bans advertising to children and bans the sale of gummy bears, gummy worms and other products that resemble kids’ candy.

Increases penalties for driving under the influence of marijuana and gives police departments funding for enforcement, training, equipment and task forces.

Gives the Department of Health Services millions of dollars annually for addiction prevention, substance abuse treatment, suicide prevention, mental health programs and other justice reinvestment projects.

Allows employers and property owners to prohibit use at their workplaces and on their property, like they do currently.

Does the right thing by providing an option for folks who were previously convicted of low-level marijuana charges to have their criminal records expunged so they have fair access to jobs and housing.

Limits the amount of THC (the chemical responsible for the “high” in marijuana) to 10 milligrams per serving of edible products.

Gives the Arizona Department of Health Services the authority to oversee the safe sale of marijuana, including testing and inspecting products sold.

Frees up police to focus on real crime and hard drugs and unclogs the justice system which is currently backlogged with minor offenses.

Creates thousands of good-paying jobs across Arizona.


Current law classifies possession or sale of marijuana in any amount as a felony. The only exception is for the more than 245,000 Arizonans who have a doctor’s recommendation that allows them to purchase up to 2½ ounces of the drug every two weeks.

Shadegg said there are a lot of things missing from the description.

One, he said, is that it does not inform signers that they would be redefining marijuana to include not just the leaves and flowers but to extracted resin which is more potent and, under current law, legally defined as “cannabis.”

He also finds fault with the claim that the initiative, if approved, would require a showing that someone is impaired “to the slightest degree” to be convicted of driving under the influence of drugs.

The problem, Shadegg said, is that current law makes it a crime for someone to operate a motor vehicle with any amount of marijuana or cannabis, or even an active metabolite of the drug. This would add a requirement for prosecutors to also prove the person was impaired.

Shadegg also finds fault with a provision levying a 16% excise tax on the drug, saying it does not tell people that can never be altered except by taking the issue back to the ballot. And he said it also fails to point out that people can grow up to six marijuana plants for themselves without paying the tax.

Campaign chairman Chad Campbell called the lawsuit “ludicrous.”

He said foes are trying to use the courts to make the arguments that should be made to voters. And Campbell, a former state legislator, said the 100-word description was never meant to be a point-by-point analysis of everything in the initiative.

Campbell also has a theory about why foes are trying to kill the measure in court.

“This is a desperate grasp from a group that can’t afford to run a campaign,” he said. “So they’re trying to do anything they can to keep it off the ballot and prevent the voters of Arizona from having their say.”


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