The Sacramento Bee: Marijuana legalization campaign sues over ballot arguments


The California campaign to legalize recreational marijuana filed a lawsuit Thursday in Sacramento Superior Court asking a judge to disallow several of what it deems false or misleading statements submitted by opponents as their official ballot arguments.

Ballot arguments, which appear in the voter information guide, are important because few voters have the time or interest to read an entire measure. While there are often disputes over language, it’s uncommon for campaigns to seek court intervention.

Tim Rosales, a spokesman for the opposition campaign, dismissed the claims as “silly-season political stunts born of desperation,” and suggested that they may challenge “misstatements of fact” by the pro-legalization side.

Secretary of State Alex Padilla has said legal challenges over measures on the Nov. 8 ballot must be completed by Aug. 15.

The proponents want a judge to reject or order substantial amendments to a number of arguments against Proposition 64, including the contention that children would be exposed to advertisements promoting marijuana gummy candy and brownies.

Jason Kinney, a spokesman for the legalization campaign, said the fall measure bars the sale of marijuana products designed to be appealing to children or easily confused with traditional candy.

Proponents also take issue with arguments that the measure would repeal consumer protections passed last year and signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown and that it would roll back the complete ban of smoking ads on TV.

“More so than any I’ve seen in recent memory,” Kinney said in the statement, “... the opponents fundamentally and factually misrepresent this ballot measure and are riddled with obvious falsehoods. These aren’t evidence-based arguments – they are scare tactics – and they’re sadly reminiscent of the ‘reefer madness’-style disinformation campaigns that subverted honest dialogue around this issue for decades.”

In a statement rebutting the arguments, the Proposition 64 campaign, which is supported by billionaire entrepreneur Sean Parker and Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, contends federal law bans tobacco smoking advertisements on television and makes it illegal to use TV broadcasts to plug the sale of marijuana.

And rather than repeal, the proponents assert their measure builds on the sweeping medical marijuana guidelines signed last year by Brown.

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