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Pot Petitions Shy 1,000 Signatures


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Organizers said the grass-roots campaign to place a marijuana-decriminalization initiative before Joplin voters is not over, after their first attempt at a petition drive fell about 1,000 signatures short.

"It's definitely a workable situation," said Kelly Maddy, president of Sensible Joplin and the Joplin chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "We still feel really good that we have a fighting chance to get this thing on the ballot."

Maddy and a handful of volunteers collected more than 5,600 signatures since September 2007 in an effort to get the decriminalization initiative on the November ballot. The petitions were submitted to City Hall on July 10. The group collected 3,623 signatures from registered Joplin voters, but it still needs an additional 1,033 valid signatures to meet the necessary number to put a proposal before voters.

Maddy said he received the results of the petition review Thursday but has not received a formal report from the city clerk's office.

City Attorney Brian Head said most of the invalid signatures came from unregistered voters.

"The primary issue is there was a large number of people who signed the petition who weren't registered voters or who weren't registered Joplin voters," he said.

City Clerk Barbara Hogelin is expected to present the results of her petition review to the City Council at its regular meeting on Aug. 4. Hogelin was out of the office Thursday.

After the council meeting, Maddy and his organization will have 10 days – until Aug. 15 – to amass the needed signatures. The city clerk then will have five days to review the petitions.

Maddy said that in addition to canvassers taking up their normal stations at the Joplin Public Library and other places, they will be going door-to-door with voter lists to obtain the signatures. He said the group also has planned a "Signature Surge Day" starting at noon Saturday, Aug. 9, at Par Hill Park.

"We're going to be all over doing our canvassing," he said.

The magic number of signatures is 4,656, or roughly 15 percent of the total number of registered voters in Joplin at the time of the most recent city election, which was in April.

If the group obtains the required number of signatures, the City Council on its own could make the proposal law, but Mayor Gary Shaw has said the panel most likely would defer to the voters on the issue.

Shaw reiterated Thursday that if the petition ultimately is brought before the council, he believes the decision should be left to the voters in Joplin.

"I think if it's thrown in our court, we'll get it on the fall ballot," he said, adding that the city would prefer that date rather than conducting a special election in February. "Just so we don't have to charge our citizens extra for a special election," he said.

The proposal

If the city clerk finds that the petitions carry an adequate number of signatures, residents would vote on a proposal that says adults charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana, which is 35 grams (1.225 ounces) or less, or with possession of marijuana paraphernalia would not be jailed or have to post bond. Those found guilty in municipal court would be subject to a $250 maximum fine.

Newshawk: JohnnyPotSmoker: 420 MAGAZINE ® - Medical Marijuana Publication & Social Networking
Source: The Joplin Globe (Joplin, MO)
Copyright: 2008 Associated Press
Contact: The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO - Contact Us
Website: The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO - Pot petitions shy 1,000 signatures

Jim Finnel

Fallen Cannabis Warrior & Ex News Moderator
i had actually been wondering how this was going. yesterday i was thinking about emailing joplin norml and asking what was up. thanks bro.
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