Marijuana Initiative Futures in Doubt

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A marijuana initiative has failed to qualify in Clark County, jeopardizing the petition's ability to make the statewide November ballot, election officials said Thursday.

To qualify for the Nov. 2 election, the initiative must collect 51,337 valid signatures statewide and qualify in 13 of Nevada's 17 counties.

"It would be a longshot if they were to make the total of 51,000 if they are relying on just the other counties to make up the difference," said Steve George, spokesman for the Secretary of State's Office. "Usually if something doesn't carry in Clark County ... it will have a hard time making it."

The Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana submitted a total of 66,135 signatures across Nevada. The initiative would allow adults to legally possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

Of the 35,400 signatures turned into the Clark County Election Department, about 26,730 were verified, according to Registrar of Voters Larry Lomax. The initiative needed 31,361 signatures to qualify in Clark County.

George said the 26,730 signatures includes some 13,000 which are in dispute because a petition affidavit was not completed. The Secretary of State's Office has requested the State Attorney General's Office determine whether those signatures should count.

Backers of the marijuana initiative said they will have enough valid signatures in the remaining counties to bring the issue before voters.

"We knew Clark County and Elko were going to be close, so if we make it in Elko, I'm confident we'll have enough valid signatures in 13 counties," said Billy Rogers, head of the Committee to Regulate and Control Marijuana and a member of the Washington D.C.-based Marijuana Project.

Five counties have reported having enough valid signatures, according to the Secretary of State's Office, which has yet to process and review the signature counts due Friday.

Ronda Moore, deputy secretary of state for elections, said Elko reported its count at 104 percent of needed valid signatures and Clark came in at 85 percent of what was needed. She cautioned that nothing is official until the review process is completed.

The other counties that already have submitted their counts to the Secretary of State's Office are Carson, Lander, Lyon, Mineral, Eureka and Douglas counties. Mineral, Carson, Lander and Lyon counties qualified the petition. Eureka and Douglas counties did not.

The marijuana committee forgot to turn in 6,000 signatures to the Clark County Election Department by the June 15 deadline. A Clark County judge later ruled election officials were not obligated to count the signatures.