Proponents of changing Nevada’s marijuana law threatened to sue over an opinion released by Attorney General Brian Sandoval that three initiative petitions must meet signature requirements based on turnout in the November 2004 general election.
All three petitions, two dealing with cigarette smoking in indoor public places and one to establish a system of marijuana regulation were rejected by Secretary of State Dean Heller’s office based on Sandoval’s opinion.
The Marijuana Policy Project’s Nevada affiliate, the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana, began collecting signatures for its 2006 initiative in September and filed the completed petitions on Nov. 9.
The 2004 election was not certified until Nov. 23.
“Before we began collecting signatures, we checked with Heller’s office and were told we needed 51,337 signatures, based on the 2002 turnout,” said the marijuana group’s director of state policies Neal Levine. “We exceeded the target Heller gave us – and that he was still using as late as Nov. 19, 10 days after we turned in our petitions – by nearly 18,000 signatures. This action changes the rules after the game has ended, violates our fundamental right to due process, and simply doesn’t pass the straight-face test. We’ll see them in court.”
On Nov. 18, Secretary of State’s office spokesman Steve George announced that, based on the raw signature count conducted by county clerks, the initiatives appeared to have qualified by a large margin.
At that point the required number of signatures, based on the turnout in November 2002, was 51,337.
Sandoval said the petitions actually had to meet signature requirements based on the much higher 2004 turnout.