A group of activists in Troy, Michigan have been gathering signatures for a ballot initiative that would give citizens the chance to decide whether the city should ban medical marijuana facilities. Should voters get the chance to decide and approve medical marijuana within the city, it would repeal a ban that is currently in place.
Everything appeared to be going smoothly for Citizens for a Responsible Troy as they turned in 4,500 signatures – far more than the needed 2,935. Unfortunately, after a handful of signatures were found to be fraudulent, an investigation was opened, and hundreds of other signatures were disqualified, leaving them with only 2,524 validated signatures. However, the group thinks that there are at least the needed 411 additional valid signatures to be found in those that were disqualified.
“And the people who signed it are also victims — they have a right to decide,” Kelly said, adding that People for a Responsible Troy will fully cooperate with police and the sheriff’s office in the investigation. Kelly said he has no knowledge of the group being approached yet by investigators.
In the end, at least four signatures were clearly fraudulent – a couple of which were loud opponents to medical marijuana who supported the current ban before it was passed. There are more than these 4 suspected to be invalid or fraudulent as well, but they all appear to trace back to a single signature gatherer. Any other disqualified signatures were found to be so on technicalities, like not being signed by a notary or not having the correct addresses for registered voters.
“I think that certainly for those 20 signatures, those are out and I’m not arguing it,” said Jim Kelly, an attorney representing the group. “If it’s an invalid signature, it’s an invalid signature.”
Now that the group has filed a lawsuit to have the otherwise valid signatures kept in, it will be up to an Oakland County Circuit Court judge to decide whether those signatures that were not signed by a notary should be kept if they are otherwise valid.
“I think the city clerk was overzealous,” Kelly said. “There were several petitions that were not signed by a notary and she threw out all those otherwise valid signatures. I think that was a legal error.”
The original deadline to have their proposal placed on the ballot was August 14th – and signatures were turned in on time, even if there were delays throughout the validation process. If the judge decides to allow enough of the signatures that were tossed to be considered valid, then the proposal will automatically see approval for the November 6th ballot. Hopefully, voters will get a chance to tell their city that they want to see medical marijuana facilities allowed in their own backyard.