Local Governments Are Still Fighting To Get Marijuana On The November Ballot

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A pair of county fights in New Mexico over getting marijuana questions on the November ballot could be resolved soon, with the state’s Supreme Court expected to weigh in any day now. The commissioners of Sante Fe and Bernalillo counties planned to ask their residents the same question: Should they support “county, city and statewide efforts to decriminalize possession of one ounce or less of marijuana.” But last week, Secretary of State Dianna Duran said votes that simply ask voters for an opinion without taking any action are unconstitutional.

“No reference can be found in New Mexico law in which a question may be put to the voters that is not for a decision to be made by those same voters,” she said in a statement last Wednesday. Duran also warned of a slippery slope: if she allows this poll question, “there can be little question that this procedure will be taken up all around the state” at taxpayer expense, she said.

But Commission Chair Debbie O’Malley took issue with Duran’s decision, complaining that she was slowing down the democratic process. “We heard from the community, met in a public, open meeting, and voted decisively to place these two questions on the ballot. It’s the secretary of state’s duty to ensure ballots are prepared in accordance with the law,” she said in a Wednesday statement, referring to the decriminalization question and another on a tax to fund mental health services. “It’s unfortunate that the secretary of state’s actions are further delaying ballots being mailed overseas to our military men and women. I’m hopeful this issue will be settled quickly.” Both counties sued, and the state’s Supreme Court is expected to weigh in Friday on when it will hear their arguments. Other local governments are similarly in flux on the issue of marijuana.

In Maine, where voters in Lewiston and South Portland will vote on legalizing marijuana possession this fall, the Marijuana Policy Project is suing the county of York for rejecting a similar measure despite several hundred signatures submitted supporting its placement on the ballot. The board of selectmen there voted this month not to place the question on the ballot because it was, in the view of the majority, unlawful given state law. And, in Michigan, the city of Saginaw received high-profile disapproval over its decision to place a measure decriminalizing marijuana on the ballot. Both Attorney General Bill Schuette and Gov. Rick Snyder have complained to the city that the proposed measure conflicts with state law, according to The Saginaw News. The issue has also been confirmed for the ballot in 10 other Michigan cities, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.



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Source: Washingtonpost.com
Author: Niraj Chokshi
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Website: Local governments are still fighting to get marijuana on the November ballot - The Washington Post