Today, the medical marijuana advocacy group Utah Patients Coalition kicked off their signature gathering campaign with hopes of getting an initiative on the 2018 ballot.
Around lunchtime in the courtyard of the Gallivan Center in downtown Salt Lake, generators from food trucks hum. A small group of volunteers in red shirts from the Utah Patients Coalition are collecting signatures for the Utah Medical Cannabis Act.
The group’s campaign director, DJ Schanz, helps a woman sign her name.
"Print, then sign. So just do it really legibly because that’s how they verify that you’re a voter," Schanz says.
Between now and mid-April, the group needs to collect signatures from around the state in order to get their initiative on next year’s ballot. According Schanz, they’ve contracted with a signature gathering company to do much of that work.
"Are we counting on volunteers to get the 115,000 signatures? It’s probably not going to happen. So that’s why we have the paid signature gatherers to do this day in, day out. Go door-to-door too really make the final push," Schanz says.
According to organizers, that company is Utah-based Gather. But, Schanz says they hope to get as many volunteers involved as possible – people like retiree, Scott Kingsbury, who has traveled to Colorado and Nevada for medical cannabis.
"I’m not doing this for myself. I’m 60-years-old. I’m old, I’m arthritic. I’m doing it for the people who have to leave Utah, have to leave their homes. They’ve been here for generations and yet, they can’t get what they need," Kingsbury says.
Kingsbury and Schanz, along with the paid and volunteer signature gatherers will need to collect a minimum of 113,143 signatures in 26 of Utah’s 29 state senate districts to get the initiative on the ballot.