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Candidate gathers 10,000 signatures for pot initiative

By Tyler May, tmay@krcrtv.com
Published On: May 06 2014 08:47:36 PM CDT
Updated On: May 06 2014 08:53:14 PM CDT
OROVILLE, Calif. -

Less than a month to the June primary election and the race for Butte County Board of Supervisors District 2 is heating up.

Marijuana is proving to be a key issue.

One candidate has gathered more than 10,000 signatures in an effort to put all future changes to the county's marijuana ordinance to the voters.

Supporters of this movement want that initiative on the November ballot putting the power in the voter’s hands.

Inside of a big blue container, there were more than 10,000 signatures asking the Elections Office in Butte County to put an imitative on the November ballot. It would allow citizens to vote on any future change to the county's marijuana ordinance.

“People are just tired of it,” said supporter, Michael Benson.

Heading the movement is Andrew Merkel - a candidate for the Board of Supervisors in District 2. Merkel is trying to beat incumbent supervisor, Larry Wahl and claim the seat this November using pot as a primary platform.

“There are too many decisions made quickly and not enough research on some of the issues,” Merkel said.

Wahl, Merkel’s opponent and the sitting supervisor, believes growing marijuana destroys the environment and should be banned altogether.

“I’m not for pot at all,” Wahl said. “It's an illegal substance by federal law.”

Wahl said whoever sits on the Board of Supervisors is well-equipped to make these important decisions.

“We were elected by the voters to represent them, and to write ordinances and laws,” Wahl said.

The Elections Office said they will have to go through all the signatures to see if they are valid.

Meanwhile, there's already a marijuana referendum on the November ballot. Voters will be able to decide whether restrictions put in place by the Board of Supervisors on the size of grows will go into effect.