United States: Two pro-marijuana initiatives move closer to qualifying for Oregon ballot
By Jeff Mapes, The Oregonian
Two pro-marijuana initiatives are moving closer to qualifying for the November ballot in Oregon.
Both petition drives say they have collected more than the minimum signatures needed to get on the ballot. However, they will both continue petitioning until the July 6 deadline to ensure they have enough valid signatures from registered voters.
One measure would give Oregon adults the state constitutional right to possess marijuana. Robert Wolfe, the chief sponsor of the measure, said that he turned in a new batch of signatures to the state on Friday and has now collected about 120,000 signatures. To qualify, his measure needs 116,284 valid signatures by July 6.
Wolfe's petition drive has been largely financed by the Foundation for Constitutional Protection, an Austin, Texas-based group that has been active in several pro-marijuana campaigns.
A separate measure would allow the commercial cultivation and sale of marijuana. Supporters of that measure have now submitted nearly 99,000 signatures, passing the 87,213 needed for a statutory measure.
Paul Stanford, the chief sponsor, said the petition drive has been largely financed by profits from clinics he owns that help people qualify for medical marijuana cards in Oregon and several other states.
Wolfe and Stanford said their measures were complimentary and did not compete with each other. One would provide constitutional protections for marijuana users while the other would set up a framework for regulating cultivation and sale of the drug.
Secretary of State Kate Brown recently levied a $65,000 fine against Wolfe, saying he had been violating the state's prohibition against paying petitioners by the signature. Wolfe denied wrongdoing and has asked for a hearing before an administrative law judge to contest the fine.
Oregon voters approved a medical marijuana law in 1998. But voters rejected a 2010 measure that would have allowed the sale of medical marijuana in dispensaries around the state.