Oregon appeals court strikes major fine against marijuana petitioner

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The marijuana proponent was facing a record $65,000 fine

In 2012, Robert Wolfe was slapped with a huge fine for gathering signatures in Oregon for a petition to legalize marijuana. The efforts ultimately didn’t produce the results he was hoping for (although the state legalized marijuana two years later) and, adding insult to injury, he was punished with a $65,000 penalty. Fortunately for the marijuana proponent, that fine has now been overturned by the Oregon Court of Appeals.

Wolfe started collecting signatures for the legalization of marijuana in the state, employing a number of individuals to help him in his cause. According to Oregon law, petitioners must be paid by the hour, not the signature, and Wolfe was ultimately accused of not complying with the law. Then-Secretary of State Kate Brown, who now is the state’s governor, ordered him to pay the fine.

Wolfe appealed the ruling, based in part on the assertion that he was never able to present evidence that challenged the state’s position. There were supposedly at least eight petitioners that could have refuted the state’s claims, but they were not included in testimony. The court of appeals has sided with him and remanded the case back to the office of the Secretary of State.

While it’s a victory for Wolfe, it may be short-lived. Oregon Secretary of State Dennis Richardson, through his chief of staff, Debra Royal, has said that he might try to reinstate the penalty. Royal added, “We’re still looking at it and evaluating how to move forward.”