Newsbrief: Seattle Marijuana Initiative in Trouble 9/13/02

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Seattle's Initiative 75, which would direct the police department to make marijuana offenses "the lowest priority," was dealt a possibly fatal blow on September 6, when a judge rejected backers' efforts to force the city to place it on the ballot. The Sensible Seattle Coalition (http://www.sensibleseattle.org) had handed in some 29,000 signatures, well above the 17,000 required to place a measure on the city ballot, but King County Elections Superintendent Julie Anne Kempf ruled on September 3 that more than 12,000 of the signatures were invalid.

Some signatures were gathered at events such as the Seattle Hempfest that draw large numbers of out-of-towners, Kempf noted. Other signatures were invalidated for being duplicates, being illegible or not having complete addresses.

Sensible Seattle supporters sued the city, claiming it had erroneously tossed out some signatures and had failed to verify the signatures in a timely manner. But King County Superior Court Judge James Doerty rejected the motion, saying it was not clear that the initiative had sufficient valid signatures to warrant placing it on the ballot.

I-75 may be wounded, but it is not yet dead. In rejecting the Sensible Seattle motion, Doerty also ordered the city clerk to send a report on the signatures to the Seattle City Council, which could order the measure placed on the ballot. And Sensible Seattle campaign manager Dominic Holden told the Seattle Times the coalition would continue to gather signatures in an effort to qualify in time for the November ballot.

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