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Both Sides Claim Defense Of Voters In Marijuana Initiative Civil Suit

Matthew Casey/KJZZ
Medical marijuana cures in a Phoenix grow facility.

Attorneys for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol have asked a judge to decide by Tuesday whether she will allow a ballot initiative on legalizing recreational pot in Arizona to go forward.

The Campaign is a defendant in a civil lawsuit seeking to block the measure. The sides gave oral arguments Friday in Maricopa County Superior Court.

There are 22 ways the initiative, if passed, would impact Arizona’s family, employment and criminal laws, said Brett Johnson, attorney for the plaintiffs. He argued the measure should not come before voters because those provisions were not included in a 100-word summary explaining what the initiative would do.

“I think from signature one of this initiative, a fraud was committed,” Seth Leibsohn, radio talk show host, activist and lead plaintiff said after the hearing.

He said every sentence in the summary contains a fault, and the initiative must be kept off the ballot because allowing it to go forward could open the door for “tremendous deception and fraud on the electorate."

But Roy Herrera, attorney for the defendants, rejected those allegations. He’s asked Judge Jo Lynn Gentry to throw out the lawsuit, and told her Friday that if the measure does not go on the ballot, the voter right to an initiative would be “reduced to an illusion.”

Herrera also said the lawsuit is rooted in anti-marijuana ideology and the legal arguments are based on a dismissive view of Arizona voters.

“Most of the arguments that they made were not supported by any kind of law,” Herrera said after the hearing. “And even the ones that were, I think were incorrect."

The Arizona Secretary of State this week certified signatures in support of putting the initiative on the ballot. If it makes it that far, the measure would appear as Proposition 205.

Federal law requires ballots be finalized 45 days before the election.

Voters head to the polls Nov. 8.

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Matthew Casey has won Edward R. Murrow awards for hard news and sports reporting since he joined KJZZ as a senior field correspondent in 2015.