Earlier this week, Brian Vicente, one of the primary proponents of the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Act, told us that news about whether the measure qualified for the November ballot could come as early as Friday. This prediction proved accurate, but the word isn't one Vicente and fellow backer Mason Tvert wanted to hear. The Act is 2,409 signatures shy of winning approval from the Secretary of State's Office.
According to the so-called Statement of Insufficiency, on view below, the Regulate folks submitted 163,632 signatures -- almost twice as many as the 86,105 required. However, a stunning 79,936 were deemed invalid, leaving only 83,696 that were ruled acceptable.
In many ways, this isn't a surprise. Setting aside accusations of vote suppression regularly leveled against Secretary of State Scott Gessler by liberal opponents, it's fairly commonplace for half of signatures on petitions to be chucked. Compare to the experience of Denver mayoral candidate Paul Noel Fiorino.
But that doesn't spell the end of the Act. Supporters now have fifteen days to reach the number needed.
Tvert's response to this turn of events?
"Today's news is unexpected, but it is really just a very small bump in the road on our journey to end the irrational policy of marijuana prohibition in the state," he writes via e-mail. "Fortunately, we started this signature drive in 2011, so that we would have the opportunity to cure any shortfall in our count. We now have 15 days to collect approximately 3,000 valid signatures.
"Given that we were able to collect an average of 3,000 valid signatures per week during the first six months, we are confident we will complete this process successfully and qualify the initiative for the ballot," he continues. "Then, in November, the people of Colorado will help us tax and regulate marijuana and end the insanity of punishing adults who make the rational choice to use a substance less harmful than alcohol."
By the way, we hear that Legalize2012.com has now submitted language for its own marijuana measure, this one focusing on full legalization. But that's just the first step in a very difficult process, as is demonstrated by the Regulate forces' latest challenge.
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Here's the aforementioned Statement of Insufficiency.
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More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana: U.S. Attorney 'not bluffing' about seizing dispensaries near schools."