Chandra Lye Aug. 23, 2016, 4:33pm

SACRAMENTO – Both for and against groups of California’s Proposition 64, also known as the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, have been ordered to change the wording of their arguments on the official ballot pamphlet.


Judges have been searching out allegedly misleading messages from opponents and proponents after several lawsuits were filed in Sacramento County Superior Court.


A pamphlet laying out the arguments for both sides will be sent to every home in the state before the vote but not before each group changes the wording of its argument.


Judge Shelleyanne Chang has ordered 10 minor changes to the pamphlets, requiring both sides to change the information they are presenting to the public.


Those who want to see the bill pass have accused opponents of exaggerating the potential to market marijuana to children using TV commercials.


Chang allowed the statement that the proposition “could limit a 45-year ban on smoking ads on television, allowing marijuana ads airing to millions of children and teen viewers.”


However, she altered the wording of the argument to state that “marijuana smoking ads could be allowed on all broadcast prime-time shows and approximately 95 percent of all broadcast television programming. Children could be exposed to ads promoting marijuana gummy candy and brownies.”


Another change to the opposed camp's publication was the wording that Proposition 64 would repeal countless consumer protections. The court ordered it be changed to “may weaken countless consumer protections.”


Voters will be deciding whether to legalize the recreational use of marijuana in California, which would make the drug illegal by federal law but legal by state law. That is something that attorney Jason Meyer of Gordon & Rees Scully Mansukhani said has becoming the norm.


“The federal government would normally be the prevailing law or the more powerful law,” Meyer told the Northern California Record. “What has occurred over the last few years, particularly with the current administration - and it has happened a lot longer than the current administration actually - is the federal government takes a stance and says, ‘Well look, I know this is our law and our rule for the entire United States however, we are going to give states leeway with regards to how they want to manage it or handle it.


“I think it would be fair to say the federal government is essentially turning a blind eye to the states and … the voters desire to allow or legalize or partially legalize.”


Although he was not familiar with the ruling, Meyer said it was likely that if one or both sides did not comply they would be back before the judge.


“If the parties don’t follow it, the proponents and opponents ignore that…then the judge would call the parties back in and the judge would then see some remedy, which may be a penalty, a monetary penalty or a gag order or something like that.”


However, he said it was more likely both sides would abide by the order.


“My experience has kind of been that these orders are taken pretty seriously – people follow them.”


Yet the order only applied to the pamphlet and Meyer said it would not apply in the case of the groups’ websites or advertisements.


“I'd imagine that the parties can say as much or as little as they want (within reason) in the advertising space which may or may not include web adverts. The pamphlet referenced is the official pamphlet that voters receive. These are not supposed to be one-sided. They provide pros and cons for each proposition.”


California voters will make their choice to support or not to support Proposition 64 on Nov. 8.

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