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Port: Recreational marijuana petitioners say they have the signatures they need to put measure on the ballot

David Owen, the chairman of the measure campaign, told me today that they feel they have at least 21,400 signatures, and probably more as additional completed measures flow into organizers over the weekend.

Two people lean over to write on forms while a third looks on. A sign reads "Sign the petition to legalize marijuana here."
Bradley Foster watches patrons sign a petition for a ballot measure to legalize and regulate cannabis for adults in North Dakota during a signing drive at the Fargodome on Friday, June 10, 2022.
David Samson / The Forum
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MINOT, N.D. — Organizers for a ballot measure that would legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota say they feel like they have the requisite number of signatures and expect to be turning them in officially next week on Monday.

That day, July 11, is the deadline for turning in signatures.

Theirs is a statutory measure, and the law says they need 15,582 signatures to make the ballot. David Owen, the chairman of the measure campaign which is called New Approach North Dakota , told me today that they feel they have at least 21,400 signatures, and probably more as additional completed measures flow into organizers over the weekend.

It would be wise for organizers to build in a big buffer of signatures given that Sec. of State Al Jaeger has already rejected two ballot measures this year.

In March, Jaeger's office rejected a measure to implement term limits for state lawmakers and the governor's office after more than 15,000 signatures were invalidated for a variety of reasons ranging from petition circulators who are not state residents to affidavit signatures that were "likely forged."

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In May, Jaeger's office rejected another measure after nearly 6,000 signatures were invalidated.

I asked Owen if he had any concerns about his measure failing to pass muster.

"I don't want to speak for other campaigns, but we've had a very careful process and we've vetted our signatures." He also said that many of the people working on this campaign are veterans of past campaigns that successfully placed measures on the ballot.

If passed, the measure would require the state to "establish and implement an adult-use cannabis program to allow for the production and processing of cannabis and the sale of adult-use cannabis products to an individual who is twenty-one years of age and older."

Beyond that, the measure also includes pages of legal language concerning how and where businesses can be started to produce, distribute, and sell marijuana to the public, and by who.

Medicinal marijuana is already legal in North Dakota, thanks to a previous ballot measure and efforts by lawmakers to implement it. That makes our state one of 38 in the nation .

If voters approve a legal process for selling recreational marijuana, North Dakota would join 19 other states that have already done so.

Opinion by Rob Port
Rob Port is a news reporter, columnist, and podcast host for the Forum News Service. He has an extensive background in investigations and public records. He has covered political events in North Dakota and the upper Midwest for two decades. Reach him at rport@forumcomm.com. Click here to subscribe to his Plain Talk podcast.
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