Pot Legalization Proponents Sue Over 'Scare Tactic' Voter Guide Arguments

Proposition 64 on the Nov. 8, 2016, ballot would legalize recreational marijuana in California. (Getty Images)

Update: Opponents have also filed a lawsuit alleging supporters have submitted false or misleading ballot arguments supporting the legalization of recreational marijuana. The No on Proposition 64 campaigns disputes assertions by supporters that the initiative prohibits marijuana ads on television. Opponents say language in the ballot measure leaves the possibility open.

Supporters of Proposition 64, which would legalize recreational marijuana in California, have filed a lawsuit asking a judge to remove or amend several arguments submitted to the official voter guide by opponents. Among them: The proposition would roll back prohibitions of smoking ads on TV and expose children to commercials for marijuana gummy candy and brownies.

Yes on 64 spokesman Jason Kinney calls the arguments false and misleading.

“The opponents fundamentally and factually misrepresent this ballot measure," he said in a statement. "These aren’t evidence-based arguments -- they are scare tactics."

No on 64 spokesman Tim Rosales called the suit a political stunt.


"Their own ballot arguments are fraught with misstatements of fact and those will be challenged as well," he said in a statement.

Loyola Law School professor Jessica Levinson was not surprised by the lawsuit. She says fights over voter guide language are common, especially when a high-profile ballot measure is involved.

"It’s an acknowledgement that what is stated in the voter guide is really important because that’s where people make most of their decisions," she says.

Levinson says while voters tend to recognize political ads are biased, they consider the voter guide to be a more reliable source of information.

And even though polls show support for legalizing recreational marijuana, Levinson says supporters still have an incentive to fight for ballot arguments they want.

"People's default answer on ballot measures a lot of times is still no, even if it's popular," she says. "It is hard sometimes to move people to the 'yes' column."

The voter guide is scheduled to be sent to the printer on Aug, 15 and mailed to voters beginning at the end of September.