Two local medical marijuana dispensary owners are expected to turn in some 4,200 signatures to the city clerk’s office today, as part of an effort to qualify a local measure for November’s ballot that seeks to minimize prosecution of cannabis-related offenses.
“This shows there’s a lot of community support, especially with patients who are already authorized to use medical cannabis,” said Don Meridan, owner of the Rainier Wellness Center. “We just want to make sure that they’ll continue to have access to their medication.”
Modeled after an 8-year-old law in Seattle, Tacoma’s Initiative No. 1 seeks to make cannabis-related offenses “the lowest enforcement priority of the City of Tacoma.”
Supporters are required to submit 3,858 valid signatures to the city by July 5 in order to qualify the measure for the city’s Nov. 8 general election ballot. City Clerk Doris Sorum said she’ll transmit the petitions on Monday to the Pierce County Auditor’s Office, which will begin validating signatures.
Already with a cushion of 300-plus signatures, supporters say they will continue to collect and submit more, right up until the deadline. Volunteer signature-gatherers are expected to collect hundreds of signatures on Saturday alone, during Tacoma Hempfest – a festival celebrating marijuana to be held in Wright Park.
As supporters continue to pursue the measure for ballot qualification, they’re hopeful the issue won’t need to be taken to city voters. They want the city council to step in to approve Initiative No. 1 as a city ordinance.
“If they want to be leaders, they can simply make this law,” said Sherry Bockwinkel, a veteran signature gatherer supporting the campaign. “If not, then we’ll throw it onto the ballot. But this issue is not going to go away.”
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