Arizona Supreme Court unanimously approves statewide vote in November on legalization. Court had already OK’d #InvestInEd initiative
PHOENIX — Recreational marijuana will be on the 2020 ballot in Arizona after surviving a legal challenge at the Arizona Supreme Court.
The high court on Thursday issued a unanimous ruling that rejected opponents’ appeal.
A 2016 initiative on legalization was narrowly rejected, with 51.3% voting no. Just two of 15 counties supported the initiative, and it lost in the state’s largest county, Maricopa County, by two points.
The 2016 and 2020 initiative language is very different, and so is the cannabis industry, now dominated by large growers and distributors.
Recreational marijuana is legal in Washington, D.C., and 11 states, including Arizona neighbors California, Nevada and Colorado.
Arizona voters legalized medical marijuana in 2010, by a slim 4,000-vote margin.
Supreme Court justice Bill Montgomery led the opposition to the 2016 ballot initiative on legalized marijuana when he was Maricopa County Attorney.
Montgomery hadn’t recused himself from ballot initiative challenges this week, raising questions about whether he could be impartial, but the ruling to allow the marijuana initiative on the ballot was unanimous.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court unanimously approved the Invest in Ed initiative for the ballot after reversing a lower court decision to toss it.
The initiative would generate about $1 billion a year for K-12 schools by boosting income tax rates on high earners.
The courts rejected two other initiatives before the Friday deadline for action: the “Second Chances” measure that would have changed some criminal sentences, and the “Stop Surprise Billing and Protect Patients Act,” a sprawling initiative covering health care workers’ pay and other health care issues.
Both were booted over a lack of verified signatures.