Oregon appeals court rejects $65K penalty on pot petitioner

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — The Oregon Court of Appeals has struck down a record $65,000 penalty imposed by the state on a petitioner backing an initiative to legalize marijuana.

The Oregonian/OregonLive reports in 2012, Secretary of State Kate Brown – now Oregon’s governor – slapped that penalty on Robert Wolfe.

He had hired signature gatherers for an unsuccessful initiative to legalize marijuana in Oregon.

Oregon law requires signature gatherers be paid by the hour, not by the signature, to discourage fraud. Court proceedings indicate Wolfe’s compensation policies were vague, but Brown’s office and a subsequent ruling by an Oregon administrative law judge concluded that he was effectively paying by the signature.

In Thursday’s ruling, the appeals court ruled Wolfe should have been permitted to present evidence challenging the state’s conclusions.

The court reversed the penalty and remanded the case back to the secretary of state’s office.