Colorado deals setback to recreational pot effort |

Colorado deals setback to recreational pot effort

Kristen Wyatt
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER – Colorado marijuana activists have about two weeks to collect an additional 2,500 signatures to get a proposal legalizing possession of the drug for recreational use on the ballot after the secretary of state said Friday that tens of thousands of signatures turned in were invalid.

Organizers with the Campaign To Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said they plan to redouble efforts to get their measure before voters in November.

Initiative sponsor Mason Tvert said, “Today’s news is unexpected, but it is really just a very small bump in the road. We are confident we will complete this process successfully and qualify the initiative for the ballot.”

The marijuana activist group last month turned in to state officials about 160,000 signatures in favor of their proposal, about twice as many as the 84,000 names required to get the measure on the ballot.

But election officials rejected about 80,000 of those as invalid, said Secretary of State Scott Gessler, adding that the activists have 15 days to get 2,500 more supporters to sign on in support of their plan.

Signatures can be dismissed because they’re not registered voters or because of improper addresses.

The marijuana campaign gathered signatures at festivals and relied on volunteers to collect names in support from friends and neighbors. The campaign also used paid gatherers.

The ballot measure would ask whether adults over 21 should be able to possess small amounts of pot without a doctor’s recommendation.

Marijuana legalization in Washington state appears headed toward ballots. A petition drive there has been certified and will appear on Washington ballots unless the state Legislature intervenes, which appears unlikely.

Proponents of at least one other Colorado marijuana measure are also gathering signatures for inclusion on this fall’s ballots. This proposal would not limit the amount of pot people could have and would not set an age limit.

Colorado last considered marijuana legalization in 2006, when voters rejected the idea. Medical marijuana was approved for people with certain conditions in 2000.

Even if Colorado voters approved marijuana for recreational use, the drug would remain illegal under federal law.