Arizona adult-use marijuana initiative wins key legal battle

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An Arizona county judge rejected a challenge to a proposed voter initiative to legalize recreational marijuana.

If the ruling is upheld after expected appeals to the state Supreme Court and if enough qualifying signatures are certified by the secretary of state in the coming weeks, recreational marijuana will appear on Arizona’s November ballot.

Opponents argued the 100-word ballot petition summary that Arizona residents signed misrepresented the proposal by failing to outline a host of changes the initiative would make.

But Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith wrote in his ruling Friday that the principal provisions of the Smart and Safe Arizona Act were included in the summary while noting that lawyers for legalization foes took 25 pages to describe provisions they said should have been included.

“Addressing legalizing a previously illegal substance must account for laws touching many parts of life,” Smith wrote. “But if everything in an initiative is a principal provision, then nothing is.”

Backers of the initiative gathered 420,000 signatures, a significant cushion over the 237,645 required to make the November ballot.

The initiative:

  • Features a licensing structure that would favor existing medical marijuana operators.
  • Would allocate 26 social equity licenses.
  • Calls for a 16% retail sales tax on adult-use marijuana products.

Associated Press and Marijuana Business Daily