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Medical Marijuana Update

Last week's middle of the week holiday made things fairly quiet on the medical marijuana front--at least until Wednesday--but it looks like Massachusetts voters will have a chance to join the ranks of the medical marijuana states in November, and other efforts are underway in some surprising places. Let's get to it:

National

On Wednesday, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi suggested possible post-election action on medical marijuana."I've been very clear on the subject of medical marijuana over time, in committee and on the floor as leader," Pelosi said to a roundtable of bloggers, Raw Story reported. "I think that it would be really important to do that," she said. "It would be hard for anyone to agree with the fact that someone who has HIV/AIDS or has cancer and they find relief from pain in medicinal marijuana that should be something that should be a priority to raid on the part of the Justice Department. Going along with that, we need to address some of the penalties for any non-violent crimes that are out there." Pelosi has previously attacked the Obama administration for the Justice Department's campaign of raids and threats against California medical marijuana providers, but this is her strongest statement yet on the topic.

Arkansas

Last Thursday, petitioners handed in signatures for a medical marijuana initiative. The group Arkansans for Compassionate Care needs 62,507 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot. They handed in 67,885 last Thursday. State election officials will do a "rough count" of the signatures to ensure that proponents have handed in at least the minimum number necessary to qualify for the ballot. While officials validate the signatures, proponents can continue to collect new signatures up to a 30 day deadline. They say they hope to gather another 40,000 or so just to be on the safe side.

California

Last Monday, petitioners for a Solana Beach dispensary initiative handed in signatures. The group Citizens for Patients' Rights handed in 1,600 signatures, almost ensuring the measure will qualify for the ballot. They only need 807 valid signatures. Once the measure is qualified, the city council will vote on whether to enact it directly or put it to a vote of the people. The council must act by August 10 for the measure to make the November ballot. Proponents have formally requested a special election if that deadline is not met. The proposal would allow nonprofit dispensaries in the municipality of Solana Beach, providing they are in full compliance with the zoning, licensing and operating standards included in the initiative.

Last Thursday, an effort to recall Redding City Council members failed. Medical marijuana advocate Rob McDonald undertook the effort in response to the city's ban on dispensaries, but came up far short of the 9,000 signatures needed to force a recall. Still, he said he was sending a message to politicians that their actions can have repercussions.

Last Saturday, Kern County's Measure G restricting dispensaries went into effect. The voter-approved measure will regulate how and when dispensaries can operate. It will even limit what a pot shop can sell. Dispensaries in unincorporated parts of the county will have to be located in a heavy or light industrial area and can't be within a mile of another dispensary, a church, school, or park. They can only be open from 10:00am to 8:00pm, and they can't sell edibles, pipes, or other marijuana-related products. The measure will affect 26 dispensaries, but it's not clear yet just how.

On Monday, Harborside Health Center announced it had been targeted for closure by federal prosecutors. Harborside is probably the largest dispensary on the planet and is well-respected locally, but had already been the target of the feds via an Internal Revenue Service investigation. This time, US Attorney Melinda Haag has threatened to seize the Harborside home base in Oakland as well as its sister store in San Jose. Employees found complaints taped to the front doors of the two locations Monday.

Also on Monday, Lake County supervisors adopted a compromise medical marijuana ordinance after a contentious day-long hearing before a crowd of hundreds. The ordinance is an interim measure while the county hammers out long-term rules. Growers responded in force to an earlier proposal for restrictive pot limits, developed in response to a spike in marijuana cultivation and complaints from non-growing residents about the stench from the plants, scary guard dogs and armed growers. The board compromised and loosened the restrictions. As adopted, the temporary ordinance allows up to six mature plants on parcels smaller than a half acre. The amount increases with the acreage and is capped at 48 plants for cooperatives with access to more than 40 acres.

On Tuesday, Yuba County supervisors suspended an ad hoc committee formed to discuss issues with medical marijuana growers. The move came after growers last week filed a lawsuit challenging the ordinance approved by supervisors earlier this year. Plaintiffs filed a civil complaint asking the ordinance to be thrown out, claiming, among other things, a lack of clarity on collective and cooperative grows could deny some users their prescriptions. The plaintiffs have also said they plan to file for a temporary injunction today in Yuba County Superior Court to prevent the ordinance from being enforced. Supervisors announced they had voted 5-0 during their closed session to refer the suit to outside counsel. Under the ordinance, medical marijuana cardholders are limited in how many plants they can grow by the size of the parcel on which they live, with additional requirements to shield the plants from public view.

Also on Tuesday, Americans for Safe Access filed a friend of the court brief in the Charlie Lynch case. Lynch ran the Central Coast Compassionate Caregivers dispensary in Morro Bay that had support from local officials, but was raided by the DEA in 2007. He was convicted in federal court of marijuana trafficking and sentenced to a year and a day in federal prison in 2009. His appeal should get a hearing later this year.

Colorado

Last week, two Colorado Springs dispensary operators filed a lawsuit against the state charging that the Department of Revenue has failed to clarify a key rule about when dispensaries can begin growing for patients. In the lawsuit, filed on behalf of Michael Kopta and Alvida Hillery, the plaintiffs ask that the department be ordered to clarify when in a patient's state approval process designated caregivers can begin growing for them. Kopta and Hillery were arrested on marijuana cultivation charges earlier this year, but said they thought they were acting in accordance with the law.

Delaware

Last Thursday, the Department of Health and Social Services began accepting applications for medical marijuana ID cards. The move came after the department finally finalized regulations for the program. While the regulations do not contain specific rules for dispensaries, there is space for them to be drafted in the future. Gov. Jack Markell (D) suspended implementation of the dispensary program after getting a threat letter from the US Attorney for Delaware, Charles Oberly III.

Kentucky

Last Thursday, a state senator said he would reintroduce a medical marijuana bill and name it in honor of longtime Kentucky hemp and marijuana activist Gatewood Galbraith, who died in January. Sen. Perry Clark (D-Louisville) had introduced a similar bill last year. It went nowhere then, and Clark said he doesn't expect much different next year.

Massachusetts

Last Tuesday, a spokesman for the secretary of state said a medical marijuana initiative had qualified for the ballot. Advocates had earlier gathered 80,000 signatures, putting the issue before the legislature. When the legislature failed to act, advocates needed to gather an additional 11,000 signatures to get the measure on the November ballot. Sponsored by the Committee for Compassionate Medicine, the initiative allows patients with specified medical conditions "and other conditions" to possess up to a 60-day supply of marijuana. Patients or their caregivers would have to obtain their medicine from one of up to 35 non-profit dispensaries or "medical marijuana treatment centers" and would not be able to grow their own unless they qualified under a hardship provision. Patients, caregivers, and dispensaries would be registered with the state.

Montana

As of the end of June, medical marijuana patient numbers were stabilizing. The number of cardholders was at 8,681, down only slightly from 8,734 at the end of May. The numbers had been in a free-fall after peaking at 30,036 in June 2011. That month, the legislature essentially gutted the medical marijuana program, making it much more difficult to buy and sell it. Federal raids also played a role. The number of caregivers also declined slightly from 400 in May to 390 in June. That's less than 10% of the number of caregivers in March 2011, when the figure stood at 4,848.

Nevada

As of the end of June, the number of medical marijuana patients was increasing dramatically. The state Health Division reported that 3,430 held medical marijuana cards, up by nearly a third over last year. That number could go even higher if the legislature next year passes a bill to allow dispensaries to operate in the state.

This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories

A former Missouri sheriff heads to federal prison, a former Kansas City cop is headed there, too, and a former South Carolina deputy is looking at drug charges. Let's get to it:

In Greenville, South Carolina, an Anderson County sheriff's deputy was arrested last Monday on official misconduct charges after the sheriff and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division charged he "did engage in numerous drug transactions" and "provided sensitive information to individuals not authorized to receive that information. Deputy Shane Thompson, 34, was booked into the Anderson County Detention Center upon arrest. He is now ex-Deputy Thompson.

In St. Louis, a former Carter County sheriff and one of his deputies were sentenced Monday to 10 years and five years, respectively, in prison on federal firearms theft charges. Ex-Sheriff Tommy Adams, 32, also is facing state charges accusing him of distributing cocaine and methamphetamine. A trial date has not been set on those charges. Adams and then-Deputy Steffanie Kearbey, 24, were arrested in April 2011 on state charges they sold meth to a confidential informant. Adams is also accused of snorting some in front of the snitch, and faces cocaine sales charges as well. The state charges against Kearbey have been dropped.

In Kansas City, Kansas, a third member of a Kansas City police unit was sentenced Tuesday for stealing electronics from houses they were searching on drug warrants. Dustin Sillings, 34, got eight months in federal prison and a year's probation for violating federal civil rights law. Sillings and his partners in the Selective Crime Occurrence Reduction Enforcement (SCORE) Unit went down in an FBI sting after complaints percolated up to the feds. One of his partners got eight months like Sillings; the other got 12 months. Sillings admitted to ripping off $340 in cash during the sting and a handful of video games during other searches.

Obama Signs Synthetic Drug Ban Bill

President Barack Obama Monday signed into law a bill banning the synthetic drugs known popularly as "bath salts" and "fake weed." The language barring the substances was inserted into the Food and Drug Administration safety bill passed last month by the Congress.

Bye-bye Spice, hello...? (wikimedia.org)
The bill targets 31 specific synthetic stimulant, cannabinoid, and hallucinogenic compounds. Marketed under brand names like K2 and Spice for synthetic cannabinoids and under names like Ivory Wave, among others, for synthetic stimulants, the drugs have become increasingly popular in recent years.

With their rising popularity came rising reports of emergency room visits and poison control center calls attributed to the drugs. Synthetic cannabinoids have been linked to symptoms similar to those suffered by people who sought medical help after smoking marijuana, while the adverse reactions reported by "bath salts" users have been more serious.

More than half the states and numerous localities have moved to ban some of these new synthetics, and the DEA placed both groups of substances under an emergency ban until Congress acted.

Congressional advocates of the prohibitionist approach to new synthetics were pleased.

"President Obama's swift approval of this federal ban is the final nail in the coffin for the legal sale of bath salts in smoke shops and convenient stores in New York State and throughout the rest of the country," said Schumer in a press release (which also includes a complete list of the 31 banned substances). "This law will close loopholes that have allowed manufacturers to circumvent local and state bans and ensure that you cannot simply cross state lines to find these deadly bath salts, and I'm pleased that after a great deal of effort, it has become law. We have seen bath salts catalyze some of the most heinous crimes in recent months across Upstate New York, and the President's signature ensures that the federal government can fight this scourge with a united front, across state lines and at our borders."

Schumer used the occasion to take a jab at Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), who had placed a senatorial hold on the bill, blocking it for months over his concerns about mandatory minimum sentences before removing the hold after the bill's sentencing structure was modified. Schumer gloated that Congress passed the bill "over the strenuous objections" of Paul.

While Schumer and his colleagues claimed the bill will suppress the new synthetics, others were not so certain.

New York state anti-synthetic activist Deirdre Canaday, whose 26-year-old son Aaron Stinson died last year after smoking a form of fake weed called Mr. Nice Guy, told a local TV news station the ban addressed only a handful of potential new synthetic drugs.

"I think if the American public isn't careful, they'll think this issue has been addressed when this is really just the tip of the iceberg," she said. "By specifically labeling chemical compounds, they are creating an open door for these basement and garage chemists to create analogs, which is branching out from the original compound, and differing just slightly, and it still has the same effect," said Canaday.

Washington, DC
United States

Massachusetts Medical Marijuana Initiative Makes Ballot

Voters in Massachusetts will have the chance to decide in November whether to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana. A spokesman for Secretary of State William Galvin said last Tuesday that proponents had successfully delivered the 11,000 additional signatures necessary and the measure had qualified for the ballot.

Earlier this year, proponents had gathered some 80,000 voter signatures so that if the legislature failed to act on pending medical marijuana bills -- and it did fail to act -- by May 1, they only needed the additional 11,000 to take the issue directly to the voters.

Sponsored by the Massachusetts Patient Advocacy Alliance, the initiative allows patients with specified medical conditions "and other conditions" to possess up to a 60-day supply of marijuana. Patients or their caregivers would have to obtain their medicine from one of up to 35 non-profit dispensaries or "medical marijuana treatment centers" and would not be able to grow their own unless they qualified under a hardship provision. Patients, caregivers, and dispensaries would be registered with the state. [Update: The official initiative campaign is now online as The Committee for Compassionate Medicine (CCM). Mass. Patients will continue as an advocacy group after Election Day.]

If the initiative wins at the polls in November, it will be the latest move in a trend that is seeing the Northeast become nearly as medical marijuana-friendly as the West. New England neighbors that already have medical marijuana laws include Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Vermont, while in the Mid-Atlantic, New Jersey and Washington, DC, also have full-fledged medical marijuana laws and Maryland offers an affirmative defense.

Currently 17 states and DC have legalized medical marijuana.

Boston, MA
United States

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Signatures Handed In

Proponents of an Arkansas medical marijuana initiative handed in voter signatures by last Friday's deadline and now have an additional 30 days to gather more. They will need it.

Gabe, an Arkansas HIV patient who benefits from medical marijuana and would like his medicine to be legal (arcompassion.org)
Arkansans for Compassionate Care needs 62,507 valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot. They handed in 67,885 on Thursday. Assuming an invalidation rate of 30%, which is not unusual, the group will likely have to come up with at least an additional 20,000 or so valid signatures or 30,000 raw signatures.

"Ultimately, we like to get another 40,000 or 50,000," campaign director Ryan Denham told the Associated Press.

State election officials will do a "rough count" of the signatures to ensure that proponents have handed in at least the minimum number necessary to qualify for the ballot. While officials validate the signatures, proponents can continue to collect new signatures up to the 30 day deadline.

The Arkansas Medical Marijuana Act would allow up to 30 medical marijuana dispensaries in Arkansas, but cities and counties would be able to ban them. Patients would be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, but neither they nor their caregivers could grow it unless the patient resides more than five miles from a dispensary. In that case, the patient or caregiver could grow up to six plants.

The act would allow patients with specified diseases and conditions to register as medical marijuana patients with a doctor's recommendation. The state could add other conditions in the future.

Little Rock, AR
United States

Singapore to Relax Death Penalty for Some Drug Traffickers

Singapore, once famously called "Disneyland with the death penalty" by author William Gibson, will move to relax the imposition of mandatory death sentences for drug traffickers.  The wealthy Southeast Asian city-state's deputy prime minister said Monday the government will produce a draft law by year's end that will give judges more discretion in some drug trafficking and murder cases, Reuters reported.

Singapore (wikimedia.org)
Singapore, which was been ruled by the same party since 1965, is a notoriously crime-averse society that subjects even minor offenders to punishments including caning. It has a zero-tolerance policy toward drugs. Amnesty International and other human rights groups estimate it has hanged hundreds of people, including dozens of foreigners, for drug offenses since 1990. 

Singapore has a mandatory death sentence for anyone found guilty of importing, exporting or trafficking in more than 500 grams of cannabis, 200 grams of cannabis resin or more than 1,000 grams of cannabis mixture; trafficking in more than 30 grams of cocaine; trafficking in more than 15 grams of heroin; and trafficking in excess of 250 grams of methamphetamine The mandatory death penalty for drugs was introduced in a 1975 Amendment to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1973 and was subsequently broadened.

But given the evolution of "our society's norms and expectations," the government will introduce the reforms, Deputy Prime Minister Teo Chee Hean told parliament. "While there is a broad acceptance that we should be tough on drugs and crime, there is also increased expectation that where appropriate, more sentencing discretion should be vested in the courts."

But not too much discretion. Escape from the mandatory death penalty would only be available to low-level couriers or those who have mental issues, Teo explained. The drug courier would have to show that he had no other role in supply or distribution.

"We also propose to give the courts the discretion to spare a drug courier from the death penalty if he has a mental disability which substantially impairs his appreciation of the gravity of the act, and instead sentence him to life imprisonment with caning," Teo said.

It's not that the government is going soft, Teo emphasized. "In particular, the mandatory death penalty will continue to apply to all those who manufacture or traffic in drugs -- the kingpins, producers, distributors, retailers - and also those who fund, organize or abet these activities," he said.

In 2010, the International Harm Reduction Association's Death Penalty Project identified Singapore as one of the nations highly committed to the use of the death penalty for drug offenses. Also included in that category are China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Vietnam, and Malaysia. Another 26 countries, including the US, either actually execute some drug offenders or have laws on the books allowing for their execution.

But Singapore has been slowly shifting. While its customs forms still bluntly warn incoming travelers of "death for drug traffickers," the government has suspended all executions since it began a review last year.

Perhaps those other "highly committed" drug offense death penalty states will take notice.

Singapore
Singapore

Drug War Snapshot: Ocean City, Maryland

Ocean City, Maryland, is a popular East Coast beach vacation destination, but it's also the scene of a major push for marijuana arrests, according to the Bethany Beach Wave. Police there have made 615 drug possession arrests there so far this year, and a whopping 85% of them are for pot possession.

Ocean City boardwalk (wikimedia.org)
Police said they didn't want such a high level of drug busts, but then said they were a high priority.

"Nobody wants to see all those drugs arrests, but it ultimately makes Ocean City a safer place to get those drugs off the street," police spokeswoman Jessica Waters said. "Drug arrests have been high on the priority list for officers, whether it be on a traffic stop or on the Boardwalk."

The arrests run in tandem with the high season for tourism, when tens of thousands of people flood into the seaside resort to escape the summer heat. Last year, according to the department's annual report, police made 160 drug possession arrests between January and May, but the number skyrocketed to 473 in the month of June 2011, declined to 284 in July and 154 in August before falling to the double or single digits for the rest of the year.

Ocean City police made a total of 3,829 arrests last year, 1,166 on drug charges. The department doesn't specify, but the majority of those were presumably for pot possession. The number of drug arrests has climbed rather remarkably in recent years, averaging under 800 for 2005 through 2008, before climbing to 839 in 2009, 933 in 2010, and more than 1,100 last year.

Ocean City has about five times the number of police per capita as other Maryland departments, at least in part because of its high number of visitors, but it also has a higher crime index than the US national average. While police have prioritized drug arrests in general and marijuana arrests in particular, they have apparently not been able to get a handle on their real crime problems.

And for marijuana consumers, well, there are other beaches on the East Coast.

Ocean City, MD
United States

Drug War Snapshot: Corpus Christi and Nueces County, Texas

Nueces County, Texas (pop. 340,000), sits on the Gulf Coast halfway between Houston and the Mexican border, astride drug trafficking corridors headed from Mexico to the central and eastern US. Its leading newspaper, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported Saturday that drug offenses were the single leading reason people appeared in felony court there over the past decade.

Of 32,000 felony cases analyzed by the Caller-Times, 10,300, or 32% were drug offenses. The newspaper did not provide a breakdown between possession and sales charges. Texas treats simple drug possession as a felony.

About two-thirds, or 6,790, of all the felony drug crimes were for cocaine offenses, followed by more than a thousand meth cases, and about 600 cases each of heroin and marijuana charges.

The number of felony drug charges over the past decade was greater than the 8,700 property crime felonies charged. The newspaper did not provide numbers on violent felonies charged, but insisted that drug offenses were the leading charge.

"It's not surprising that South Texas has a significant drug traffic issue with its proximity to the border," said Corpus Christi Police Capt. David Cook, who is with the department's Narcotics Vice Investigations. "We get a lot coming through here," he told the Caller-Times.

State District Judge Sandra Watts told the Caller-Times that about half of her daily docket consists of drug-related cases. She said she would rather sentence addicts to places like the Substance Abuse Felony Punishment facility instead of prison so offenders can get treatment and the state can save money. A supervised drug treatment program costs $2.46 a day, compared to $50 a day for prison, she said.

"Very often we see repeat offenders because an addict is an addict," she said."If someone is addicted to drugs we will see them again until we get a handle on the addiction," she said. "And we don't have enough prisons to put everyone in jail for possession of controlled substances."

For the past decade at least, Nueces County has been arresting its citizens at a rate of more than 1,000 a year for offenses in which the most serious charge is a drug charge. Perhaps it might want to offer treatment on demand instead of treatment by court order, or simply decriminalizing drug possession, for a start.

But local law enforcement isn't thinking like that. Captain David Cook of the Narcotics Vice investigations squad had an old-fashioned answer: more cops. He said the department's 22 narcotics officers aren't enough.

"The drugs go north, and the currency comes south," he said. "I see everything that happens here and we try to keep a lid on it but it's difficult. You could give me 50 or 60 narcotics officers and maybe we could keep up."

They could no doubt keep up, or even increase, their drug arrests numbers with triple the narcotics officers, but can the good people of Corpus Christi afford to just pay for more of the same, year after year after year?

Corpus Christi, TX
United States

Drug War Snapshot: Volusia County, Florida

Volusia County, Florida, situated midway up the state's Atlantic Coast, has just under half a million people, and if its July 6 county jail bookings are any indication, it has one heck of a drug problem -- or is it an elective policing problem?

Volusia County Courthouse (volusia.org)
Of the 67 people booked into the Volusia County Branch Jail on the Friday after the 4th of July, only seven were charged with violent crimes, while people charged with drug offenses made up more than half of all bookings. At least 35 people were charged with drug offenses, mostly small-time trafficking, while three more were charged with drug possession while arrested for another crime.

The most common drug charges were sale of cocaine (11), followed by sale/trafficking in controlled substances (10), violation of drug court rules (4), possession of a controlled substance (3), and possession of cocaine (2). The day also saw single counts of possession of meth, sale of meth, manufacture of meth, sale of marijuana, and possession of marijuana.

Six people were arrested on unspecified probation violation or failure to appear charges. Some unknown portion of those were likely originally arrested on drug charges.

Only three people arrested on drug charges were also arresting on other criminal charges at the same time, one for burglary and drug possession, one for solicitation to commit prostitution and drug possession, and one for hindering a firefighter and drug possession. While drug use could be a factor in other charges filed, such as the five accused burglars below, they apparently weren't carrying drugs when committing those crimes.

Of the 23 people charged with other than drug offenses, only seven were charged with crimes of violence. Four faced charges of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, one was charged with strong-arm robbery, one with robbery by assault, and one with intimidating a witness.

Three people were charges with status offenses -- acts that would not be a crime except for their having previous criminal convictions. One was charged with failure to register as a sex offender and two with felon in possession of a firearm.

The most common non-drug charge was burglary of an unoccupied dwelling, with five people being booked into the jail on that charge. The remaining eight people were charged with offenses ranging from solicitation to commit prostitution to child neglect and child porn possession to possession of counterfeit notes, fleeing and eluding, and grand theft.

Last Friday in Volusia County, prosecuting the drug war took up more than half of the county's law enforcement, prosecutorial, judicial, and correctional resources. The decisions about how to allocate law enforcement resources (or whether to even reduce them given the paucity of non-drug crimes) is something the good people of Volusia may want to ponder.

Daytona Beach, FL
United States

Oregon Marijuana Initiative Hands in Final Signatures

Oregon could well be the third state to end up with a marijuana legalization initiative on the ballot after supporters of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA) said they had handed in more than 165,000 signatures by last Friday's deadline. Marijuana regulation and legalization initiatives have already qualified for the ballot in Colorado and Washington.

The Oregon measure needs 87,000 valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

"We believe we are going to make it easily," said OCTA chief petitioner Paul Stanford at a Salem news conference Friday morning.

But it's still nail-biting time as state election officials can take up to a month to validate signatures, and they have already invalidated signatures handed in earlier at a record rate. At the end of May, OCTA turned in 108,000 signatures, only to have nearly half of them invalidated, a shockingly high percentage of disqualifications.

With only 55,000 valid signatures from that first batch of 108,000, that means OCTA has to come up with 32,000 valid signatures from that second batch of 57,000. If the same rate of invalidation holds, the measure will fall just short.

But last month, Stanford told the Chronicle the OCTA campaign had tightened up its signature gathering in the wake of the high invalidation rate on the early signatures. "We're screening our signatures much better now, we're checking in with every single petitioner. We're closely scrutinizing every incoming sheet," he said.

If OCTA makes the ballot and is approved by voters in November, Oregon would regulate the cultivation and sale of marijuana to adults 21 and over. The measure would also legalize hemp production in the state.

A second marijuana effort, the Oregon Marijuana Policy Initiative (OMPI), would have asked Oregon voters to approve a state constitutional amendment to legalize personal cultivation and possession of marijuana. While it, too, appeared to have a good chance of qualifying earlier this year, it too suffered from record high signature invalidation rates.

Because it is a constitutional amendment, it faces a higher hurdle, needing 124,000 valid signatures to qualify. Chief petitioner Robert Wolfe told Reuters this week he did not expect OMPI to make the ballot because of the high number of disqualifications. He told the Chronicle last month he was contemplating legal challenges to the invalidations.

In a month or less, we will know if OCTA has qualified. We could end up with a Western weed legalization trifecta for November.

Salem, OR
United States

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