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Marijuana Initiative Backers Sue For The Right To Gather Signatures Electronically

Cannabis in jars.
Cannabis in jars.

The backer of two proposed measures to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Montana is suing the state for permission to gather electronic signatures during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

Initiative-190 would legalize use of recreational pot in the state. It requires over 25,000 valid voter signatures to appear on November’s ballot.

Constitutional Initiative-118 aims to amend the state constitution to set the age of marijuana consumption and possession at 21. It needs almost 51,000 valid voter signatures.

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The lawsuit filed last week by New Approach Montana claims COVID 19 hampers the traditional in-person signature gathering process. It names as plaintiffs both the state of Montana and Secretary of State Corey Stapleton.

New Approach says that given the dangers of the global pandemic it’s neither ethical nor allowed under existing shelter-in-place orders to gather voter signatures in person.

The group is asking Missoula District Court Judge John Larson to allow it to suspend state laws in order to collect signatures electronically this election cycle. New Approach says it will use a company called DocuSign to help verify them.

The suit also asks that the deadline to submit signatures be delayed from June 19 to August 03.

As of publication time, Secretary of State Corey Stapleton’s office did not respond to Montana Public Radio request for comment.

Copyright 2020 Montana Public Radio. To see more, visit Montana Public Radio.

Edward O'Brien is Montana Public Radio's Associate News Director.