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Update For Three Marijuana Votes On November Ballots

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Craig Boudreau Vice Reporter
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Residents of three states were waiting to find out if they would be voting on some form of marijuana legalization or repeal of existing law this November — Michigan, Oklahoma and Montana.

The Michigan recreational legalization effort got some bad news Wednesday. A judge on the Michigan Court of Claims ruled that 200,000 of the more than 350,000 signatures occurred outside of a 180 days window of the original petition, putting them outside of the allowable window and making them “stale,” The Detroit Free Press reported Wednesday.

“We’re disappointed but we always figured this would go to the state Supreme Court — and that’s where we’re headed,” chairman of MI Legalize, Jeff Hank, told The Detroit Free Press.

MI Legalize tried to argue the 180 day law was unconstitutional, but the judge disagreed and now the legalization effort has a very narrow window for appeal, in order for the legalization measure to make it on the November ballot.

Hank notes that if the state Supreme Court doesn’t rule in their favor, the group would appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on First Amendment grounds, but says that would mean stalling the effort until at least 2018.

Oklahomans For Health, on the other hand, has exceeded the signature threshold by about 2,000 for a medical marijuana initiative, Marijuana Business Daily also reported on Wednesday.

Now the Oklahoma Supreme Court needs to approve the signatures having met the threshold. Then the state attorney general needs to review the ballot title before the public has a chance to challenge either the signatures or the title. If those obstacles are cleared, the measure will then appear on the November ballot.

If the vote passes, Oklahoma will join 25 other states and the District of Columbia who have legalized marijuana either recreationally or medicinally.

Then there is the case of Montana, which already has legal medical marijuana, but a group was looking to have the law repealed.

Safe Montana filed suit in district court over what they said were 3,200 “improperly invalidated” signatures for the repeal effort. But, Flathead County District Court Judge Heidi Ulbricht ruled the signatures were properly removed, The Cannabist reported Wednesday.

Car dealer Steve Zabawa initiated the measure but it fell 4,100 signatures short after the signatures were nixed and others were lost. Zabawa now says rather than file an appeal to the state Supreme Court, Safe Montana will refocus efforts onto a bill that seeks to expand the existing law by easing restrictions — I-182.

The bill would allow doctors to now prescribe medical marijuana to those with chronic pain and post-traumatic stress disorder. It also lifts the requirement that any doctor who recommends 25 or more patients a year having to be referred to the board of medical examiners.

“We’ll spend all our efforts now making sure people know what I-182 is all about,” Zabawa told The Cannabist.

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