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Arizona, Nebraska supporters signal to get legalization on the poll

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Max Savage Levenson July 3, 2020

The sun could go down on the cannabis ban in Arizona. Voters will decide on adult legalization in November.

Legalization advocates in Arizona and Nebraska have submitted signatures that are likely sufficient to qualify the adult and medical programs for their November elections.

The petition's signatures now need to be verified by the State Secretary of State's office. Confirmations are expected in August.

Both campaigns have overcome significant hurdles during the 2020 Coronavirus pandemic. Weeks of home orders combined with the requirement to collect signatures in person have put the campaign on hold for a while. The break did not end, however.

Arizona activists yesterday submitted 420,000 signatures to the Smart and Safe Arizona Act. You need 237,645 valid signatures to qualify.

On Thursday, Nebraskans for medical marijuana submitted 182,000 signatures for their constitutional medical marijuana initiative. You will need approximately 122,000 valid signatures to qualify. There is an additional catch in Nebraska: the total number of signatures must include at least 5% of voters from at least 38 counties across the state.

Nebraska comes back roaring

"Families with loved ones suffering from diseases such as epilepsy, PTSD and cancer have struggled for years to make medical cannabis safe," Senator Anna Wishart of Nebraska said in a recent statement. "Today is a huge step forward for thousands of Nebraskans who deserve compassion."

"We are confident that we have met the eligibility requirements for the ballot papers, and after seeing support for our petition, we are even more confident that Nebraska voters will approve this initiative in November," she added.

Excluded from corona virus quarantine

The remarkable numbers give the supporters reason to be optimistic. In Nebraska, the champions of the initiative gathered on July 2nd in the state capital of Lincoln for a press conference where they loaded the 183,000 petitions into a U-Haul truck. (The lawyers have since added an additional 1,000 signatures to their total number).

“The mood is happy. People are very happy with the numbers we are delivering, ”Jared Moffat, campaign coordinator for the Marijuana Policy Project, which has played an important role in the Nebraska campaign, told Leafly. "There's still a lot to do, of course, but it's a great day to take stock of how far we've come."

120,000 signatures were collected in one month

Moffat also highlighted the high octane end of the campaign: volunteers and paid advertisers collected around 120,000 signatures last month.

"We had a decent track before, but it has completely disappeared from the charts in the past few weeks," said Moffat.

Volunteers collected a large part of these signatures. "I've never seen or heard anything like this," added Moffat.

In Arizona, Samuel Richard, managing director of the Arizona Dispensaries Association, was confident that the overwhelming signatures would secure the place of the Smart and Safe Act on the ballot. "It would be a kind of abnormality that goes beyond what we got used to in 2020 if it wasn't on the ballot," he said to Leafly.

Next step: signature validation

Lawyers in both states are preparing for possible legal disputes over their signatures.

The governor of Nebraska, Pete Ricketts (R), has spoken out explicitly against any form of legalization. In 2015, members of the state parliament shot down a medical marijuana bill sponsored by today's former Senator Tommy Garrett, a Republican who is a key supporter of the current initiative.

"We started the campaign because we have to go around (banned politicians)," said Moffat. "Most people support (medical marijuana), but persistent politicians are in the way."

"The next phase is to defend signatures and ensure that no valid signatures are issued by registered voters," he added.

In Arizona, where adult legalization was unsuccessful in 2016, Sam Richard is preparing for resistance from illiterate politicians and the state chamber of commerce (which negotiated with legalization advocates earlier this year).

"We hoped these supposedly smart business people would understand that an initiative that puts $ 350 million into the treasury every year is something they would take," Richard told Leafly.

"We make sure that this is overwhelming," added Richard. "We are not resting on our laurels. It is important to approach the election as if you were five points less. We are still hungry. We will work every day to ensure voters across Arizona understand that now is the time to legalize, tax and regulate it. "

Max Savage Levenson's bio picture

Max Savage Levenson

Max Savage Levenson probably has the lowest cannabis tolerance of all authors in the cannabis beat. He also writes about music for Pitchfork, Bandcamp and other people with glasses. He is the co-host of the hash podcast. His dream interview is Tyler the Creator.

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