Activists behind two cannabis reform measures in Wyoming are considering seeking legal action against the secretary of state over a voter-signature disagreement. According to the campaign, Secretary of State Chuck Gary’s office “provided incorrect information” on the number of signatures activists had to submit for their measure to qualify for the 2024 ballot.
The Compassionate Options Wyoming, the state Libertarian Party and Wyoming NORML says the misunderstanding has turned into a time-consuming back-and-forth that has derailed the marijuana reform measures and prompted them to consider litigation. Both measures would legalize medical cannabis in Wyoming and decriminalize simple possession of small amounts of marijuana.
In a recent press release, activists claimed that the secretary of state’s office had instructed them to collect more than 40,000 signatures for their measure to qualify for the ballot even though state law only called for 29,730 signatures. The cannabis measures would have qualified under the rules requiring slightly under 30,000 signatures; instead, both measures failed to qualify for the ballot earlier this year.
Wyoming NORML announced in March that although it had collected enough raw signatures for both initiatives, the group didn’t meet the minimum percentages needed in two-thirds of the counties in Wyoming. The activists collected 47,426 signatures for the cannabis decriminalization proposal and 48,687 signatures for the medical marijuana proposal but clarified at the time that the signatures were not state verified.
Reform activist and Oquirrh Mountain Strategies consultant Apollo Pazell said the disagreement stemmed from a dispute on when and how the secretary of state’s office determined the signature thresholds for measures to qualify for the ballot. According to Pazell, the campaign reached out to the office on several occasions but was “given the turnaround.” Pazell also notes that a state website showed that the minimum threshold for ballot initiatives to qualify was 41,776, but number changed to 29,000 the day after the campaign’s deadline passed.
Conversely, Secretary of State Gary says Pazell’s claims are untrue and an attempt to shift blame onto the office for not doing enough due diligence. Gary explained that the campaign began collecting signatures 15 months before he took office, and any incorrect information the organizations received would have come from the previous administration’s election team.
Wyoming is one of the few states in the country that still outlaws both medical and recreational cannabis. Reform activists tried to qualify a cannabis measure for the 2022 ballot but were unable to collect enough signatures due to the coronavirus pandemic and poor weather.
As the calls for reform in Wyoming become louder, a time will come when this outlier state on matters of marijuana policy also eventually opens up and allows local enterprises akin to Green Thumb Industries Inc. (CSE: GTII) (OTCQX: GTBIF) to mushroom and thrive within its borders.
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