CARSON CITY, NV — Nevada’s Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol says they will turn in 170,000 signatures to election officials on Wednesday for an initiative to place marijuana legalization on the 2016 ballot.
In order for the initiative to be placed before voters, 101,667 of those signatures, including a minimum number of signatures in each of the state’s four congressional districts, will need to be certified as valid by election officials.
The deadline for initiative petitions is Tuesday, but since it is Veteran’s Day and a state and federal holiday, the deadline has been pushed back to Wednesday. Activists have been collecting signatures since earlier this year.
The initiative, backed by the Washington, DC – based Marijuana Policy Project, who placed successful marijuana legalization measures on the ballots in Colorado (2012) and Alaska (2014), is modeled after the measure passed by Colorado voters in 2012. Adults 21 or older would be allowed to legally possess up to one ounce of marijuana, which could be purchased from state regulated retail stores.
If the Coalition to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol’s petition is certified with enough signatures, the proposal to legalize and regulate marijuana for adults 21 or older will first go before the 2015 state legislature.
The legislature will have the option of approving the measure, eliminating the need for the measure to be placed before voters. If lawmakers fail to approve the proposal within the first 60 days of the legislative session, it will be placed on the November 2016 ballot for voters to decide.
Because the measure would propose taxing marijuana, the both chambers of the legislature would need to pass the bill with two-thirds approval. The bill, if passed by the legislature, would also need the signature of Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval to become law.
But if the legislature votes the bill down, or if the bill is vetoed by the governor, the measure automatically would be placed on the November ballot the following year, which is the most likely scenario.
And because the measure would go before voters in a presidential election year, supporters are optimistic that the measure will pass.
“You have a component in the presidential election that would favor us,” Joe Brezney, spokesman for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana, said earlier this year. “You’ll have a bump in young people turning out to vote for a president, and young people overwhelmingly support us.”
In addition to the presidential election, US Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), a supporter of allowing medical marijuana, is also up for re-election in 2016, which could further increase voter turnout.