North Dakota marijuana petition signature drive falls short

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Supporters of amending North Dakota’s constitution to legalize recreational marijuana say they will try again to collect enough signatures to get the issue on the ballot.

The group had a year to gather and submit at least 26,904 valid signatures of North Dakota voters to Secretary of State Al Jaeger. The final deadline was Wednesday.

Petitioners missed earlier deadlines to make this year’s June and November ballots but continued to collect signatures in hopes of a June 2022 vote.

Chairwoman Jody Vetter told The Bismarck Tribune the group gathered just shy of 24,000 signatures and wouldn’t be submitting petitions.

But Vetter said supporters are planning to start again with an identical proposal for 2022 and are already arranging a sponsoring committee.

She said the coronavirus pandemic, which emerged in March in North Dakota, hampered signature gathering for months.

Another group, Legalize ND, is gathering signatures for a change in state law to legalize marijuana and is looking at a June 2022 vote. Petitioners have a December deadline to submit 13,542 signatures.