Wyo. SOS office admits providing incorrect directives to petitioners
RIVERTON — In an email sent to organizers of the medical cannabis and decriminalization initiatives, the Wyoming Secretary of State’s office has tacitly admitted that information given to initiative organizers was incorrect and that they only needed 29,730 signatures instead of the over 40,000 initially directed. Under the newly revised rules, the Wyoming cannabis petitions would have qualified for the 2024 ballot with 36,000 signatures.
The Secretary’s office excused the error, depriving Wyoming voters of their rights, by saying in an email, “…We are a whole new election team, and we have undertaken a comprehensive review of the initiative process in recent months, primarily due to an initiative currently filed with our office.”
The referenced initiative is a policy that the current Secretary of State has publicly favored, publishing a press release supporting the proposal on official government letterhead. Petition organizers were quick to characterize the Secretary of State’s office response as unacceptable. “The people of Wyoming have the constitutional right to petition their government. The cannabis petitions should have been treated the same as the party affiliation initiative. Secretary Gray and his ‘new’ team should have provided the same deference and professionalism to the cannabis petition. Why did they not undertake a ‘comprehensive review of the initiative process’ while there was a pending initiative on the table? Their behavior deprived Wyomingites of their rights,”said Wyoming NORML executive director Bennett Sondeno.
Organizers are considering their political and legal options in the face of this new revelation, including submitting a second initiative or pursuing legal remedies.
Still, they are encouraged to know that the Wyoming Cannabis Petition successfully collected the required signatures and, but for the admitted actions of the Secretary of State, would have been on the ballot in 2024.
In addition to the incorrect information about the number of signatures, the Secretary of State’s office also provided false information about the timing of signature submissions. It asserted that if the petitions were not verified, it would prevent the initiative from being certified again for five years.
“Either way, this fight is not over. Patients, veterans and Wyoming families succeeded at collecting the signatures. This measure will be law no matter how hard they try to refuse our rights,” said Marshall Burt.
The cannabis petition organizers’ last communication with the Secretary of State’s office was on Feb. 4; on that date, their public website still listed the required number of signatures as 41,776. Organizers are asking members of the Wyoming public who signed the petition to go to omscampaigns.com/wyoming-cannabis to confirm their support for the initiatives.