Capitol Alert

Opponents of legal pot can argue kids could be exposed to candy, brownie ads

A Sacramento Superior Court judge agreed Friday to let opponents of a proposition legalizing marijuana in California warn voters that children could be exposed to ads promoting marijuana gummy candy and brownies.

The ruling comes a week after proponents of the measure filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Alex Padilla over what it deemed were false or misleading statements submitted by opponents as their official ballot arguments, which will be included in the state’s voter guide. Opponents filed their own suit in response, calling out statements the proponents made in their arguments to support legalization.

Among many requests, proponents asked Judge Shelleyanne W.L. Chang to delete the statement about children being exposed to marijuana advertising. Instead, she changed wording to say children “could” instead of “will” be exposed to the ads.

She agreed with the opposition’s complaint that proponents overstated an analysis from the Legislative Analyst’s Office on the financial effects of the measure. She changed wording from “will save $100 million” to “could save tens of millions of dollars annually” due to reduced law enforcement costs.

The judge approved a request by opponents of the measure to water-down wording in the pro-legalization arguments that said “the evidence is clear” to “some evidence has shown” that states with legalized marijuana have less youth marijuana use.

She similarly agreed when opponents cried foul over a line from an argument that said impaired driving has decreased in states with legalized marijuana. Chang altered the statement to say “it has not been definitively proven that impaired driving has increased in those states with legalized marijuana.”

Both sides hailed the court ruling as a win in their favor and largely disagreed on the implications of Chang’s decision.

Jason Kinney, a spokesman for Proposition 64, called it a “clear and decisive victory.”

“Today, the opponents of Proposition 64 found out the hard way that the same old, tired anti-marijuana propaganda doesn’t fly in court any more than it does with voters,” he said in a statement. “As a result of these actions, voters will have more objective, fact-based information in their ballot pamphlet, instead of silly scare tactics from the anti-marijuana brow beaters.”

Opponents of the measure referred to the ruling as “a resounding win for the No on Prop 64 campaign.”

“The facts are clear – the big marijuana players who drafted this initiative changed or added over 100 laws, but made a calculated decision to include television advertising,” said campaign consultant Wayne Johnson in a statement. “The ruling today was clear – marijuana ads could be on broadcast television if Prop. 64 passes – ads that could be seen by children.”

Taryn Luna: 916-326-5545, @TarynLuna