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Arizona Supreme Court Clears Way For Marijuana Vote

(Photo courtesy of The Arizona Marijuana Initiative 2016)
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is the driving force behind the 2016 ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana in Arizona.

The Arizona Supreme Court has given the go-ahead for recreational marijuana to be on the November ballot.

The court shot down an appeal Wednesday by upholding a lower court ruling that a summary of Proposition 205 complies with state law.

Officials will soon start printing ballots, said Barrett Marson, spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol.

“It’s a great day for the voters of Arizona who have enthusiastically said they want an opportunity to end marijuana prohibition,” Marson said.

But the state Supreme Court also ruled Prop 205’s funding source cannot be challenged before voters decide whether to approve it, which means another court battle could come after the election. 

Opponents of Prop 205 argued the measure violates the Arizona constitution because it won’t pay for itself. But the Court declined to consider the issue before voters have their say.

The justices gave no clues on how they might rule if Prop 205 passes, and opponents mount another challenge, said trial attorney Scott Halverson, who is not involved in the case.  

“They clearly left the door open, but they didn’t give us a hint as to which direction they were leaning,” Halverson said. 

General fund money won’t go toward the measure, Marson said. Instead, initial financing will come from the state’s unused medical marijuana fund.

In a separate ruling Wednesday, a judge ordered the Arizona Secretary of State’s office to correct Prop 205’s wording to say pot would be legal for people age 21 and older. But the judge denied a request to include an explanation that most of a 15 percent tax on cannabis would go to education.

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.