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Petition Deadline On Marijuana Referendum Is Wednesday

Christine Green

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The final push is on this weekend to gather signatures on a pair of petitions for medical and recreational marijuana referenda in Knox County.

The deadline is Wednesday at the close of business, according to Cliff Rodgers, Knox County's elections commissioner. Rodgers said that roughly 16,500 signatures are needed.

In the 75 days that Steve Cooper has been collecting signatures for the referenda, he said he has about 15,000 at last count. His goal is 20,000.

He'll be at Off The Wall, 8805 Kingston Pike, on Saturday to collect signatures.

Cooper said the response from people to sign the petitions to put the referendum before voters has been largely positive.

"The only negative thing we got was last week on Chapman Highway," he said. "Some guy in a pickup truck pulled up and started yelling some incomprehensible stuff and threw a can at us and peeled out of the parking lot.

Cooper said that he and his wife were so shocked that he didn't think to pull out his phone and take a picture of the guy's truck.

"Other than that ... people, they're all great," he said. "Everybody's ready for a change. They find it ridiculous, especially the medical."

One referendum would ask voters whether they support medical use of marijuana. Another would ask if voters support recreational use. Cooper has said he knows the referenda items, should they appear on ballots and then pass, have no binding authority over state law that says marijuana possession and use is illegal. He just wants to send a message to the state legislature.

"Right now," Cooper said, "attacking me is like attacking democracy."

Rodgers said anyone could get a referendum on a ballot on just about anything, as long as the county election commission approves of the language of the item for ballots.

Then the petitioner gathers signatures, 15 percent of the total Knox County voters who voted in the most recent gubernatorial election.

A total of 107,275 voters cast votes in the gubernatorial election of 2014.

Rodgers said that he's set aside $25,000 to have staff count and verify signatures. "We've got a lot of things to sort through, and then we have 30 days to count signatures we're given."

News Moderator: Christine Green 420 MAGAZINE ®
Full Article: Petition deadline on marijuana referendum is Wednesday
Author: Gerald Witt
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Website: News, Sports, Business | Knoxville News Sentinel
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