LEGAL CHALLENGE: Smart & Safe Arizona Misled Petition Signers in Marijuana-Funded Push for Signatures

Eight concerned Arizona voters and the chairwoman of Arizonans for Health and Public Safety filed suit in Maricopa County Superior Court against the Smart & Safe Arizona initiative. Plaintiffs are represented by the national law firm, Polsinelli, with former Arizona Congressman John Shadegg and Sean Gallagher, who has argued successfully before the United States Supreme Court, as lead litigators.

The suit challenges the 100-word statement used by petition circulators to persuade individuals to provide their signatures and contends that the statement was misleading and left out key information about the initiative.

“These omissions and statements misled voters who signed the petition about what the initiative would do,” James said Monday. “There is a reason a small handful of big marijuana businesses spent millions of dollars for Smart & Safe Arizona to gather signatures without actually informing signers of what they were agreeing to.”

“The initiative is clearly defective and does not comply with the requirements set by the Arizona Constitution or Statutes for such measures. The proponent’s summary of the initiative is confusing and deceptive in numerous ways, beginning with the very definition of marijuana,” said Shadegg.

“The initiative defines marijuana as covering hashish and other more potent drugs currently defined as narcotics. It makes it more difficult to convict someone of driving under the influence of marijuana than under current law while its summary asserts that it does the exact opposite,” Shadegg explained. “On top of that, the initiative’s summary, intended to inform Arizona’s voters, touts the 16% tax imposed on marijuana. But it intentionally misleads and confuses voters by concealing that this tax can never be increased, nor can any fee on marijuana ever be added by the Legislature or any governmental agency.”

Lisa James, chairwoman of Arizonans for Health and Public Safety, says it’s important to remember that Arizona law will lock our state into the initiative as-is if passed. “It is virtually impossible to fix or update it after the fact when there are unintended consequences, making it imperative that voters be fully apprised.”

Shadegg contends that the faulty 100-word statement has “rendered the initiative defective and precludes it from being certified for the ballot.”

“Arizona voters deserve better than to be manipulated like this,” said James.