Charles E. Stiles Jr. won’t get his wish — that Crawford County voters be allowed to cast non-binding ballots on the legalization of marijuana — but he hasn’t given up. He vows to fill Meadville’s Diamond Park with pro-pot protesters before the November election.

His long, gray hair tied in a pony tail down his back, and wearing a suit with red, white and blue scarf around his neck in the form of a tie, Stiles presented his case in the Crawford County Court of Common Pleas Wednesday.

Serving as his own attorney, Stiles argued that if voters can decide if alcohol can be sold in their municipality, they should be allowed to do the same for marijuana.

In July, the Townville resident had asked the county’s director of elections, Marlene Robertson, to put the question of legalizing marijuana on the Nov. 7 ballot.

Specifically, he wanted voters to decide if they wanted it to be “legal for adults to grow cannabis (marijuana) with a license” and “legal to possess and partake cannabis while remaining a violation to sell (marijuana).”

Citing state law banning all non-binding referendum questions on the ballot, Robertson refused the request.

Stiles then took his case to court.

Representing the county election board, attorney Mark Stevens cited the state election law and case law forbidding such action. “The law is really quite clear. The election board does not have the power or authority to put referendum issues on the ballot,” he said.

There are some exceptions. The state does allow the question of whether a municipality should allow the sale of liquor be placed on the ballot.

That’s what Stiles used as the base for his argument.

“I would like to suggest pot is in the same category,” Stiles said, referring to alcohol.

“If you can vote wet or dry, why can’t you vote low or high?” he asked. “If you can put liquor on the ballot, why can’t you put pot on the ballot?”

He presented a petition with 629 signatures and said it is the “will of the people” that they be permitted to vote on the issue.

Judge John Spataro said the law is specific about which questions can be put on a ballot for voters to consider, and noted legalizing marijuana is not one of them.

As a result, he ruled against the request and dismissed the petition.

“So be it,” Stiles said quietly.

At the same time, however, he told the court that he will be hosting a “rally three days before election day and 1,000 to 2,000 people will be in the (Diamond) park who would like to vote on this.”

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