Petition signatures returned this week; final count found insufficient by auditor’s office
CAMAS — The Camas-based PAC Camas for Cannabis Access submitted over 2,400 signatures for adding Initiative 1 to the November general election ballot, but was returned an insufficiency result from the Clark County Auditor’s Office. In the last 10 days more signatures were collected, but were also found insufficient.
The group’s goal since March of this year has been to add the initiative to the ballot, and allow voters the opportunity to approve or deny the operation of the one state sanctioned marijuana shop in Camas city limits; potentially reversing a 2015 council decision.
The effort is now on pause until more valid signatures can be collected, according to group head, Terah Pitchford.
“This is just our first stab at talking to the community about it and the pandemic really caused us to reevaluate our whole plan,” Pitchford said. “It’s not something that we’re giving up on and we’re looking to strategize and get back out there in the community to make sure that this issue is still resolved.”
The group raised over $30,000 to advocate for the issue, but ran into challenges in collecting signatures with social distancing. A large influx of newly registered voters, and voters who lived outside the Camas city limits also contributed to the insufficiency.
The opposition group to Initiative 1, Washingtonians Against Legalizing Marijuana (WAALM) expressed relief at the petition result, and shared correspondence with the city of Camas as well. An emailed statement about the status of the petition from Aug. 31 with city staff read as follows:
“We received nothing. At this point, if they wanted to continue, it would be starting over w/ all new signature gathering, timelines, etc.”
The 2,377 signatures required for adding an initiative in Camas are only valid for six months after their signing. Pitchford explained that many of the signatures collected, while insufficient in number are still valid. Many are drawing near to the six month cut-off, however, so the process will likely be a total start over, she said.
“We spent so much time and effort and energy in the community, in Camas, and we talked to so many people who this is a really big issue for them,” Pitchford said. “We wanted to make sure to submit their voice and their opinions of the people who live in the city of Camas, that signed that petition and make sure that their voice is heard.”
During the 2012 state-wide marijuana legalization vote, close to half of all Camas residents that voted did so in favor of decriminalization of the drug. WAALM was primarily concerned with this majority support resurfacing to support a local initiative. In fact, it is still a concern.
“There are some people that make lots of money off of addiction, but the community pays,” said WAALM Treasurer, Dan Duringer. “What’s even really more of a serious concern is the political corruption that goes along with this … marijuana money flowing in the political system.”
Camas for Cannabis Access’ website will remain active, and new signature collecting is anticipated at a later election cycle, Pitchford said. The group has been working with the marijuna retailer, New Vansterdam, which operates several locations across the region, including one in Vancouver. The business is currently the only one to hold a state license allowing them to open a shop in Camas if the moratorium were lifted.
WAALM combatted the pro-cannabis campaign with political signage around Camas, while the proponents canvassed and used a petition table near the Safeway. Duringer explained in an email that his group will continue as well, with their website and Facebook pages remaining active.
“We’re fighting this wherever we can nationally and locally,” Duringer said. “It’s not easy raising a family and we do not need to be throwing drugs into these children’s lives. I’m very motivated to keep Camas safe for kids.”