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Judges Reject Challenges Arizona Sentencing, Recreational Marijuana Initiatives

Arizonans are entitled to vote in November on measures to give judges more sentencing discretion and to legalize recreational marijuana, according to separate court rulings issued Friday.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge Joseph Mikitish rejected arguments by Pima County Attorney Barbara LaWall and some crime-victim advocates that the required 100-word description of the Second Chances, Rehabilitation, and Public Safety Act failed to inform those signing the initiative petition of exactly what it would do. 

The judge said he found the wording contained nothing that was either fraudulent or created a significant danger of confusion or unfairness, the legal standard by which these statements are measured.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge James Smith rejected similar arguments made by challengers of the Smart and Safe Arizona Act, which would legalize adult recreational use of marijuana.

Smith wrote that there was nothing misleading about the 100-word description, and he rejected arguments that the summary omitted certain provisions, noting that a summary is just a summary. 

“A summary’s failure to capture every possible outcome of an initiative … does not make it misleading,” he wrote.

Both judges noted that anyone who was unclear about what is and is not included in either initiative could simply read the actual petition language which, by law, has to be attached to signature sheets.

Both rulings are likely to be appealed to the Arizona Supreme Court.

Ben Giles is a senior editor at KJZZ.