Help oppose efforts making voter initiatives harder in Arizona
Last update: September 20, 2017
Arizona’s constitution gives voters the right to initiate and decide ballot initiatives. Unfortunately, the ballot initiative process is under attack from politicians. This year, the Arizona Legislature passed a law that requires an unrealistic and unreasonable level of perfection for all ballot measures. This means that future efforts to pass legalization through the voter initiative will be that much harder.
The new law subjects ballot initiatives to a concept called “strict compliance” that will make these citizen efforts much more expensive and much more difficult. Facing this constitutional crisis, six plaintiffs filed a lawsuit to stop this law (HB4422) from taking effect, arguing that it is unconstitutional. The “strict compliance” standard means that ballot measures can now be turned away for technical, inadvertent, and inconsequential mistakes like a coffee stain or an ink smudge.
Unfortunately, the Court refused to make a decision on the constitutionality of the law, saying that the plaintiffs did not have the standing to sue. Now, the plaintiffs must appeal…and they need your financial help. This legal battle has racked up large legal bills. Please consider donating to the Legal Defense Fund so that the plaintiffs can continue their fight against this unconstitutional law that severely curtails your right to a ballot initiative!
Medical marijuana in Arizona
On November 2, 2010, Arizona voters enacted a medical marijuana initiative — Proposition 203 — with 50.13% of the vote. Arizona Department of Health Services (DHS) finalized dispensary and registry identification card regulations on March 28, 2011. On April 14, 2011, it began accepting applications for registry cards that provide patients and their caregivers with protection from arrest. DHS was preparing to accept dispensary applications starting in June and to register one dispensary for every 10 pharmacies in the state, totaling 125. However, on May 27, 2011, Gov. Jan Brewer led a federal lawsuit seeking a declaratory judgment on whether Arizona’s new medical marijuana program conflicted with federal law. Her lawsuit was rejected in 2012.
To qualify under Arizona’s program, patients must have one of the listed debilitating medical conditions: cancer; HIV/AIDS; hepatitis C; glaucoma; multiple sclerosis; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); Crohn’s disease; agitation of Alzheimer’s disease; PTSD; or a medical condition that produces wasting syndrome, severe and chronic pain, severe nausea, seizures, or severe and persistent muscle spasms.
Registered patients may possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and may designate one caregiver to possess it on their behalf. Arizona’s law also provides that any patient living 25 miles or more away from a dispensary can cultivate marijuana. Those allowed to cultivate can grow up to 12 plants. Arizona honors visiting patients’ out-of-state registry identification cards for up to 30 days, but they are not valid for obtaining marijuana.
The law also includes extensive civil discrimination protections for medical marijuana patients in the areas of employment, housing, education, organ transplants, and child custody, visitation, and parental rights.
The Arizona Legislature has rolled back some of Prop. 203’s protections, like possibly allowing an employer to fire a medical marijuana patient based on a report alleging workplace impairment from a colleague who is “believed to be reliable.” The legislature also passed H.B. 2585, which contradicts Prop. 203 by adding medical marijuana patient data to the prescription drug-monitoring program. In 2015, the legislature undermined patient protections again with the passage of H.B. 2346, which specifies that nothing requires a provider of workers’ compensation benefits to reimburse a person for costs associated with the medical use of marijuana.
In September 2017, the Arizona Department of Child Services issued a new regulation saying that if an individual is a medical marijuana patient, then he or she would not be eligible to become a foster parent.
To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Arizona, be sure to subscribe to MPP’s alerts, if you haven’t done so already.