Activists who struggled to get enough legitimate signatures to qualify their initiatives for a public vote come November say they're outraged by the alleged behavior of several NDSUfootball players.
The ball players are facing charges they faked signatures on ballot initiatives while working to collect those signatures for an August deadline.
The Secretary of State declared two initiatives disqualified after it was discovered that some of the signatures were faked, including one that was purportedly that of the U-S Secretary of State. The two initiatives were, respectively, a push to legalize medical marijuana, and a move to establish a state conservation fund for wetlands and other natural resources.
Patty Mary, of West Fargo, suffers from a degenerative disc disorder that puts her in chronic pain. She's been in and out of surgery since January, and in and out of the pain clinic on a regular basis.
She believes medicinal marijuana would help control her pain and give her back a normal life.
The pain, in spite of prescription painkillers, makes it hard for her to stand. Even so, Mary spent hours collecting signatures this summer for the ballot initiative legalizing medical pot. She was paid some of the time, she says, and even met some of the accused players. She says they would come back with "stacks and stacks" of signatures, and she'd ask them what spots they staked out to get so many. It was important to her; she even went on her own free time to get signatures.
"My kids," she says, tearing up. "The months I've been in bed. I can't go for a bike ride, I can't go for a walk. I can't go shopping, that's out of the question.
"My kids. They don't deserve that."
Secretary of State says now that the deadline has long passed to get enough legitimate signatures on each petition to add it to the November ballot, there's no way either group can get it to a vote come November. Both the medical marijuana group and the outdoors men's group pushing the state conservation fund say they're weighing their options, one of which is to try again for a public vote next June.
In the meantime, Mary says she's facing some harsh choices.
"Do I move back to Colorado, where it's legal, where I'm from?" she says, recovering from yet another series of injections into her spine at her West Fargo home. "Do I pull my kids away from their lives, their families here? Do I do that to my kids?"
Mary says she hopes the NDSU players receive the full punishment the law allows.
The students have not been formally charged -- nor convicted.