Marijuana activists’ state ballot bid loses its national backing

If pro-pot activists in Nevada are going to get a marijuana legalization question on the 2012 ballot it will be without support of their national backers.

The Marijuana Policy Project, a national organization that supported the group Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws, has cut off funding to the ballot initiative.

That leaves in-state activists committed to the cause without financial and organizational backing for gathering the 97,002 signatures needed by November to put the legalization question in front of voters in 2012.

A spokesman for the national Marijuana Policy Project, or MPP, said the group made cuts in Nevada and elsewhere as the result of budget woes.

“Ballot initiatives are expensive, that’s no secret,” said spokesman Mike Meno. “We had to cut back in a few places and Nevada was one of them.”

David Schwartz, who was MPP’s Nevada representative, is no longer with the organization but still is trying to find alternate funding to keep the initiative alive.

He acknowledged loss of national support could kill the drive.

“There is a possibility that it is going to come to an end,” Schwartz said.

The legalization drive was organized through a ballot advocacy group filed with Nevada Secretary of State Ross Miller on Dec. 11.

Its purpose was to create a legal, regulated market for marijuana for people 21 and older.

Pam DuPre, spokeswoman for Miller, said in-state representatives are still free to pursue the initiative even though the national representatives have backed out.

“That is still a valid petition drive,” she said. “Volunteers have certainly accomplished the feat in the past, so we’ll just see what happens.”

If the measure were to appear on the ballot in 2012, it would be the third time in 10 years voters took on the matter.

The previous two times legalization has been voted down, with 39 percent supporting it in 2002 and 44 percent in 2006.

A poll from the Review-Journal and 8NewsNow released this past weekend showed 42 percent of likely voters support legalization and 52 percent oppose it.

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