Tax and Regulate

Arizona Judge Rejects Initiative Opposition Lawsuit

On August 19, a Maricopa County Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by opponents of Proposition 205 who want to keep the measure off the November ballot.Yes_on_205_Header

Arizona Republic reports:

Foes argued in court last week that supporters of legalization are deceiving voters with their pitch of the measure. An attorney argued a 100-word summary of the initiative failed to adequately summarize the measure's impact on laws affecting motorists, child custody, workplaces and licensing of certain professions.

In her decision, [Judge] Gentry disagreed, writing: "Plaintiffs demonstrated no ability to prepare a summary that would comply with the 100-word limit and with their objections. Plaintiffs, nonetheless, persist in asserting that omitting these provisions from the summary along with what they consider misstatements about the provisions that were included makes the summary fraudulent. Plaintiffs’ position is in essence that the summary should have more fully described what the initiative will do but do not explain how they could do it better. Instead, Plaintiffs simply argue that such a summary creates a risk of confusion and unfairness and threatens the integrity of the initiative process."

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She also rejected their argument because of the Legislature's recent changes to the election code affecting citizens' ability to sue to keep such measure off the ballot. "Whether wittingly or not, the legislature eliminated a means by which initiative petitions can be challenged," the judge wrote.

She also rebuffed foes' arguments that the initiative failed to provide its own immediate self-funding. Prop. 205 proposes to use money from the state's 2010 voter-approved medical-marijuana program initially.

Opponents of the initiative plan to appeal, but the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is confident that the courts will uphold the ruling.

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Tax and Regulate

Arizona Republican Rep. Ethan Orr Suggests Making Marijuana Legal to Aid State Budget

According to the Tucson Weekly, Arizona Rep. Ethan Orr is looking at Colorado’s recent marijuana venture and the taxes, licenses, and fees that have brought the state more than $7 million so far.

As reported by the Arizona Republic, the Arizona revenue projections released last Tuesday to the legislature’s Finance Advisory Committee predict that the state will end this budget year with a $520 million deficit and possibly up to a $1 billion deficit in the coming fiscal year of 2016.

[caption id="attachment_8187" align="alignright" width="259"] Ethan Orr[/caption]

“Given the massive budget shortfall we’re facing, we need to look at revenue and I think this is a logical place we need to look,” Orr said. “I think it’s time to have an intelligent conversation about it (legalization).”

Orr also said that lawmakers should consider his proposal before supporters in the effort to make marijuana legal take their measure before voters in 2016.

Mason Tvert, director of communications at the Marijuana Policy Project, commends Rep. Orr for demonstrating leadership on the issue.

“While we are not yet familiar with the details of Rep. Orr’s bill, we would likely support any well-written proposal to regulate and tax marijuana similarly to alcohol,” Tvert stated.

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Medical Marijuana

Arizona U.S. Attorney indicates dispensaries, state employees would not be at risk

Today, the Arizona Republic covered Gov. Jan Brewer’s outrageous, not-yet-filed lawsuit that calls the state’s voter-enacted medical marijuana law into question. Gov. Brewer alleged a major reason for the suit was fear that state employees could be in jeopardy. This claim was disingenuous given that Arizona U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke’s letter hadn’t mentioned state employees, and Brewer didn’t even bother to ask him if they would be at risk.

Apparently, reporter Mary K. Reinhart was more resourceful than Gov. Brewer. She spoke to U.S. Attorney Burke, who said "We have no intention of targeting or going after people who are implementing or who are in compliance with state law. But at the same time, they can't be under the impression that they have immunity, amnesty or safe haven." Burke also said they plan to focus drug enforcement on cartels and major trafficking, and that they have no intention to prosecute state employees.

This sounds like, in practice, the Arizona U.S. Attorney plans to abide by the 2009 Ogden memo that advises against targeting those in clear and unambiguous compliance with state laws, and by prior statements by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and President Barack Obama.

In practice, as MPP has reminded lawmakers, the federal government has not been targeting those dispensaries that are state-registered, complying with state law, and operating in states with clear regulations and registration requirements. There have been no raids on dispensaries or licensed producers in New Mexico, Colorado, or Maine.

We hope this marks the beginning of the end of the scare tactics from U.S. Attorneys. We also believe that any alleged violation of state law should be up to state — not federal — law enforcement officials and/or courts to consider.

Join in the campaign to ensure the federal government does not interfere with state medical marijuana laws by asking your representative in Congress to support three bills in Congress that would provide legal protection to those complying with state law.

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