Pubdate: Mon, 02 Aug 2004
Source: Las Vegas Sun (NV)
Copyright: 2004 Las Vegas Sun, Inc
Author: Cy Ryan, Sun Capital Bureau
Cited: Marijuana Policy Project ( )
Cited: American Civil Liberties Union ( )
Cited: The Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana (CRCM)
Bookmark: (Decrim/Legalization)
Bookmark: (Ballot Initiatives)
Bookmark: (Cannabis)


Judge's Order Means Initiative May Make Ballot

CARSON CITY -- U.S. District Judge James Mahan issued a temporary
restraining order Friday stopping the state from taking any further
action on the marijuana initiative petition that is short of the
necessary signatures needed to qualify for the ballot.

Mahan has set Aug. 13 as the date for oral arguments on the suit by
the Nevada chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union and the
groups supporting the petition to allow adults to possess and use one
ounce of marijuana.

Allen Lichtenstein, the Las Vegas lawyer for the ACLU, said the judge
wanted to keep the status quo and said the temporary restraining order
prevents any more action by Secretary of State Dean Heller that might
disqualify the petition.

The group wants the judge to order Heller to put the issue on the
November ballot.

"This is a really good sign," said Jennifer Knight, spokeswoman for
the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana. "The fact that this
judge issued a temporary restraining order in our case means that it
has merit."

In the meantime, the committee is continuing its campaign, including
television ads and meeting with community groups.

"We're planning for success," Knight said.

Renee Parker, chief deputy secretary of state, said keeping the status
quo means the petition still failed to qualify. She said the
initiative has 50,088 valid signatures and needs 51,337 to qualify for
the ballot.

Parker said the secretary of state's office followed the orders of
District Judge Bill Maddox of Carson City who ruled that signatures on
petitions which did not contain the affidavit signed by a registered
voter must be counted. In the case of the marijuana petition, slightly
more than 15,000 signatures were added after the ruling.

The decision by Maddox was delivered in reference to the petitions to
raise the minimum wage and to prevent frivolous suits. Parker said the
office then applied the ruling to the marijuana petition but it still
came up short.

Heller said he is going to appeal the Maddox ruling to the Nevada
Supreme Court.

The suit by the ACLU, the Marijuana Policy Project and the Committee
to regulate and Control Marijuana, challenges a section in the Nevada
Constitution that requires an initiative petition have 10 percent of
the voters in 13 of the 17 counties to sign the documents.

The suit also challenges the decision of Clark County Registrar of
Voters Larry Lomax to exclude the signatures of those who registered
to vote on the same day they signed the petition. That totaled 2,039

Parker said the petition only succeeded in 12 of the 17 counties. In
Clark County petition supporters fell short of the required 31,350
names by about 4,500 signatures.

Parker said she's "starting to wonder if we can pull it off" with all
the lawsuits and challenges on the initiative petitions. "It's pretty
scary," she said.

The county clerks need to have the final language on the proposed
constitutional questions by Sept. 1 to get the absentee and sample
ballots printed for the general election.

On the marijuana issue, she said there is no committee yet to write
the pros and cons on the ballot question. Arguments before Judge James
Mahan are scheduled for Aug. 13, she said. The state Attorney
General's Office Friday filed a motion with the Nevada Supreme Court
for an expedited handling of the appeal on the ruling of the District
Court to put the minimum wage and the frivolous law suit initiatives
on the ballot.

Sun reporter Kirsten Searer contributed to this story.
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MAP posted-by: Larry Seguin