(photo: eggrole / flickr)

Despite early positive signs that a medical marijuana initiative was going to make the ballot in North Dakota this November, it was not certified by the Secretary of State. The reason it failed to make the ballot is the several college students hired to collect signatures, instead of working allegedly decided to write in fake names. From the Bismarck Tribune:

Eleven paid petition circulators have been charged with facilitating election fraud and filing false statements in gathering signatures for two proposed November ballot measures.

Secretary of State Al Jaeger announced Tuesday morning that the fraudulent signatures have disqualified the proposed state conservation fund measure and medical marijuana initiatives from the ballot.

[...]

With the medical marijuana initiative, a total of 7,559 signatures were rejected. The sponsoring committee for the medical marijuana initiative had turned in 20,092 signatures. The rejected signatures dropped the total signatures to 12,533, or 919 short of the 13,452 needed for the statutory initiative to appear on the ballot.

This is a disappointing setback that appears caused by an outside firm the campaign hired to gather signatures. (Hiring outside firms to gather signatures is a common practice among ballot initiative campaigns.) As a result, it will likely be several more years before medical marijuana is finally approved in North Dakota.

This failure means that ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana will only appear on the ballot in two states this November, Massachusetts and Arkansas. In both those states the initiatives have already been certified to appear before the voters.