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Medical pot initiative files signatures way before deadline

The Arizona Medical Marijuana Policy Project took a big step today toward getting its initiative to legalize medical marijuana on the Arizona ballot by filing nearly 100,000 more signatures than are necessary to qualify its measure. 

The group filed more than 252,000 signatures with the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office, even though it only needs 152,365 valid signatures to make the ballot.

Project Chairman Andrew Myers said the group began collecting signatures last May with a goal of 250,000, and simply turned in the signatures after they had reached that mark. He is extremely confident the initiative will qualify for the ballot and sees smooth sailing ahead.

“We checked several times more signatures than what has been the industry standard,” he said. “I’m usually a nervous person about things like that, and I feel very comfortable with the work we turned in today.”

The filing is the first of this campaign season and one of the earliest filings since at least 2000, when the Healthy Children Healthy Families committee launched Proposition 200 by filing signatures on April 18, 2000.

The state now has 20 days to determine whether enough of the submitted signatures are valid to qualify the initiative for the ballot. Signatures could be deemed invalid for a number of reasons, including if they don’t match the signature on file with the state, if they were collected by a convicted felon or if the signer is not a registered Arizona voter.

Now, the focus turns to building public support for the initiative.

Myers said his group’s support campaign will be dictated by what opposition it encounters.

“The nature of our campaign will depend to a large extent on the opposition we see,” he said. “If we’re running against a seven-figure budget campaign, that’s going to look very different than if we remain in the circumstance we are in today, which is one opposition committee filed and they have one in-kind contribution of $2,500.”

Myers said his group will ensure voters are aware of its efforts. He isn’t aware of much opposition to the initiative, but stopped short of speculating whether any serious challenges would materialize.

“We will have a presence,” he said. “You never know. We will be keeping a very close eye on our opposition and our own standing with the public.”

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