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Recreational marijuana petitions run into a few problems; 4,000 have signed so far

A medical marijuana growing facility in Minnesota. Forum News Service file photo

FARGO— Some of the petitions to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota have hit unexpected roadblocks after US Bank refused to notarize them.

Darius Endres said he took six filled packets to the US Bank on South University Avenue to get them notarized, but was shocked when the banker refused to verify the signatures since the petition was about marijuana.

Endres said, "And I said, 'well you're not really signing the petition. You're just notarizing my signature.' Aren't the merits of the petition kind of irrelevant?"

Minutes later, Endres said he went to another bank with no problem.

"I go a block north to Gate City Bank. That guy says, 'I don't even care what it's for. I just need to check your ID, make sure that's it, that matches the signature, I have no problems.' Done," said Endres.

The refusal angered campaign leaders who recorded a phone call with a US Bank representative that said: "We've checked with our legal department previously on these types of requests and unfortunately, we're not able to notarize them because of the federally insured bank, we're not allowed to process anything related to marijuana at all."

Despite this, one petitioner on Facebook said his signatures were verified by the US Bank on Broadway last year.

Election specialist Lee Ann Oliver said by notarizing a petition, a notary doesn't necessarily approve of what the petition is supporting.

She said notaries still have the right to refuse a petition for any reason.

"Just because someone puts a document in front of you, and you're a notary, doesn't mean that the law requires you to notarize anything that's set in front of you," she said.

Endres is still upset, and said politics should be left out of notarizing.

"Just check my ID, make sure the name is being signed there, and then we're done. That's it. I didn't want to start any problems," said Endres.

Petitioners said the campaign has at least 4,000 signatures so far. They need about 13,000 by June if they want voters to see it on the ballot in 2018.