Newsbrief: Alaska Lieutenant Governor Disqualifies Marijuana Legalization Petition Signatures, Proponents Vow Fight 1/17/03

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Alaska Lt. Governor Loren Leman (R) Tuesday disqualified a marijuana decriminalization initiative, saying that the petitions handed in lacked enough qualified signatures. Sponsors of the "Act to decriminalize and regulate cannabis (hemp including marijuana)" needed 28,782 signatures. They handed in more than 40,000 signatures, spokesman Al Anders told DRCNet, but Leman disqualified 194 of the 484 petition books handed in, leaving only 21,737 valid signatures.

Leman is a long time marijuana foe, most notorious for leading a successful effort to amend the state's medical marijuana statutes in 1998 to avoid the appearance of California-style compassion clubs in Alaska. Now, as lieutenant governor, he is the state's top election official. "We always got along fine with election officials before," said Anders. "We believe, but cannot yet prove, that Leman told his workers 'find some way to kill this.'"

Leman misinterpreted state election law, Anders said. "The dispute is over sponsor accountability forms on the back of each book indicating who had which signature book. Even though they are not required by statute, we have copies of all the forms for all the books except for last month, when we turned them in."

Anders and Free Hemp in Alaska (http://www.freehempinak.org), the sponsors of the petition, vowed to fight the ruling. "The first step is to contact the lieutenant governor's office and Division of Elections and give them a chance to do the right thing," he said. "If not, we sue."

They only other option, said Anders, was to restart the signature-gathering process. "They would like us to have to go out and spend another $40,000 or $50,000 gathering signatures, and we could do that. It would be an opportunity to broaden our support, but we'd rather be registering our supporters and building for the 2004 election that way," Anders said. "I think they're scared. We got almost 41% last time with an initiative that called for legalization, amnesty, and a study of reparations. With those clauses gone, Alaskans will probably say maybe police have more important things to be doing than arresting marijuana people, maybe prosecutors have more important cases to prosecute, maybe the jails have more important tenants."

Free Hemp's initiative would have broad implications. Its wording states that adult Alaskans would not "be subject to criminal or civil penalties for the possession, cultivation, distribution or consumption of" hemp, which is clearly defined to include smokable marijuana.

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Issue #272, 1/17/03 The Road to Mérida: Interviews with Participants in the "Out from the Shadows" Campaign | The Road to Mérida: Interview with Dr. Francisco Fernandez, Anthropologist and Former Rector of Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán | The Road to Mérida: Interview with Al Giordano, publisher of Narco News | Bolivian Government Represses Coca Protests, Four Dead... So Far | Ed Rosenthal Medical Marijuana Trial Underway -- Judge Blocks Mention of Prop. 215, Has Trouble Seating Jury | Canadian Prime Minister Promises Motion on Decriminalization as Courts Continue to Chip Away at Marijuana Laws | Latin American Anti-Prohibition Conference, Feb. 12-15, Mérida, Yucatán, Mexico | Cumbre Internacional Sobre Legalización, 15-Dec Febrero, Mérida, México | Newsbrief: Souder Pushes Partial HEA Reform, Frank to Reintroduce Drug Provision Repeal Bill | Newsbrief: Racine Caves Before the Ravers | Newsbrief: MPP "War on Drug Czar" Continues -- State Reacts to Allegations | Newsbrief: 12 Dead in Brazil as Drug Police Raid Shantytowns | Newsbrief: Mexican Soldiers Bust Narcs | Newsbrief: Colombian President Seeks Iraq-Like Mobilization Against Traffickers | Newsbrief: Some Colombian Terrorists May Be More Equal Than Others | Newsbrief: Alaska Lieutenant Governor Disqualifies Marijuana Legalization Petition Signatures, Proponents Vow Fight | Newsbrief: Return of the RAVE Act | Newsbrief: Ecstasy Rarely Kills, British Study Finds | Alan Shoemaker Ayahuasca Legal Defense Fund Needs Support | Media Scan: Washington on Forchion, Cockburn on Rosenthal, Forbes on Walters, Szasz on Drug Medicalization, Bruce McKinney, GAO on DARE | DC Job Opportunity at DRCNet -- Campus Coordinator | The Reformer's Calendar
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