Despite the fact that several campaigns in Arizona are trying to stay relevant by collecting digital signatures, the Arizona Supreme Court won’t accept anything other than in-person signatures, even considering the COVID-19 pandemic. This will impact the Arizona Marijuana Legalization Initiative 2020. 

The court rejected allowing digital signatures in a 6-1 decision. If it had passed, a system called E-Qual would have been used, one that candidates for state offices often use to collect signatures. The only justice who voted in favor of this was Vice Chief Justice Ann Scott Timmer, who claimed that some proposed ballot measures would be doomed if they are unable to gather signatures. 

Because of COVID-19, it is going to be very difficult for ballot measures like cannabis legalization to get the signatures they need. Initiatives in Arizona need at least 237,645 signatures to qualify for the ballot— a very high number when closures and social distancing are taken into account. 

“It would not have been difficult for the court to grant voters both safety and their constitutional rights, but today, they refused to do that despite the immediate availability of the E-Qual online signature collection system and the ongoing rise of coronavirus cases and deaths across Arizona,” another group collecting signatures, the Save Our Schools campaign, said in a statement.

What The Ballot Would Mean

If the cannabis ballot initiative does pass, possession and use of recreational cannabis for adults 21 years of age or older would become legal. Those of legal age would be able to grow no more than six cannabis plants for personal use at home, as long as the plants are not in public view. It would also allow those who have prior cannabis charges to petition for those to be deleted from their records. 

While this would be an incredibly huge step forward for Arizona, many are now concerned that it won’t become a reality in light of this court decision. The campaign will need to get creative in order to figure out how to collect in-person signatures for their cause.

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