- Associated Press - Friday, October 30, 2015

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Supporters of an initiative to legalize medical marijuana have collected about 20 percent of the signatures needed on the 2016 general election ballot.

The Wyoming chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws has until Feb. 8 to gather nearly 25,700 signatures.

The group had set a goal earlier this year of collecting the required signatures by the end of this month.

And with the coming cold months forcing the signature gatherers mostly inside, the effort will be more challenging.

“The outdoor season has ended, and that is probably going to be the biggest challenge moving forward,” Chris Christian, the group’s executive director, told the Wyoming Tribune Eagle (https://bit.ly/1PXSboY ) on Thursday. “I’m not worried, but we are looking for better ways to get to indoor places and for people to find us.”

Wyoming has one of the most stringent ballot initiative processes in the country.

The state requires organizers to gather the number of signatures equal to 15 percent of votes cast in the last general election. And the petitions need to secure signatures of 15 percent of the qualified voters in at least two-thirds of the state’s 23 counties.

Only seven initiatives have made the statewide ballot since the state started allowing the practice in 1968. Many of those groups relied on paid circulators to get the necessary signatures.

Wyoming NORML has chosen not to use paid circulators.

Christian said more than 300 volunteers across the state have been working to collect the signatures since mid-August.

Christian added that with limited funds, the group is heavily relying on social media to get its word out.

A handful of people interviewed around Cheyenne on Thursday gave mixed opinions about whether they would sign the petition.

“It’s bad for the body, it’s bad for the mind, and it’s bad for the soul,” Cheyenne resident Mickey Wiggins said. “No, I will not be signing it.”

Pine Bluffs resident Bridget Munoz said she supports medical marijuana because she thinks it would help people - such as her husband, who recently underwent surgery - manage their pain.

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Information from: Wyoming Tribune Eagle, https://www.wyomingnews.com

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