Pubdate: Fri, 24 Dec 2004
Source: North Lake Tahoe Bonanza (NV)
Copyright: 2004, North Lake Tahoe Bonanza
Author: Geoff Dornan, Bonanza News Service
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project ( )
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Ballot Initiatives)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


The Attorney General's Office ruled Monday that petitions asking the 
Legislature to legalize and control possession of marijuana for personal 
use and to restrict cigarette smoking must have 30,000 more signatures than 
organizers were originally told to collect.

As a result, Chief Deputy Secretary of State Renee Parker said, all three 
ballot issues failed and will not be presented to the 2005 Legislature.

The Nevada Constitution requires petitions have signatures totaling 10 
percent of the number of people who voted in the last general election to 
qualify. Passage of the initiatives would have put them before the 2005 
Legislature as proposed legislation. If lawmakers refused to pass them, 
they would go back on the next ballot for public enactment.

When the three petition drives were started last fall, the last general 
election was held in November 2002. Ten percent of that turnout is 51,337 

But the petitions weren't turned in until a few days after this year's 
general election Nov. 2. And 10 percent of this November's turnout is now 
83,156 signatures.

The three petition drives each ended up with between 51,337 and 83,156 
signatures - 69,261 for marijuana, 74,348 for "Protect Nevadans from Second 
Hand Smoke" and 64,871 for the "Clean Indoor Air Act."

That raised the question of which election was the "last general election."

Parker said the Attorney General's Office issued its opinion Monday 
recommending Secretary of State Dean Heller use the 2004 turnout.

"That means they all fail," she said.

Her prediction the issue would end up in court was confirmed almost 
immediately by Bruce Mirken of the Marijuana Policy Project.

"Our view is that it simply does not pass the straight-face test," he said 
after reading the opinion. "This is a clear violation of our due process."

Mirken said signature gatherers were told throughout the petition process 
that 51,337 was their goal.

"The secretary of state was saying as late as Nov. 19 that the 2002 
election results were the basis for our requirement," he said.

He also pointed out the group was prevented from taking the marijuana 
question directly to voters on the November ballot by what he considers 
legal maneuvering.

"We'll see them in court," said Mirken. "This opinion has the odor of 
something written to reach a predetermined conclusion."

The opinion blocks both the cigarette-smoking initiatives as well.