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Bank refused to notarize signatures on petition for legal pot in North Dakota

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FARGO—A petition to legalize recreational marijuana in North Dakota is hitting unexpected roadblocks after US Bank refused to verify their signatures.

Vape gear lines the shelves of Darius Endres' growing business.

With it, petitions vying for a full legalization of recreational marijuana.

With six filled packets, he took them to the US Bank on South University to get them notarized, but was shocked when the banker refused to verify the signatures since the petition was about marijuana.

"And I said, 'well you're not really signing the petition. You're just notarizing my signature.' Aren't the merits of the petition kind of irrelevant?" Endres said.

Minutes later, Darius went to another bank with no problem.

"I go a block north to Gate City Bank. That guy says, 'I don't even care what it's for. I just need to check your ID, make sure that's it, that matches the signature, I have no problems.' Done," Endres said.

The refusal angered campaign leaders who recorded a statement frin a US Bank representative: "We've checked with our legal department previously on these types of requests and unfortunately, we're not able to notarize them because of the federally insured bank, we're not allowed to process anything related to marijuana at all."

Despite this, one petitioner on Facebook says his signatures were verified by the US Bank on Broadway last year.

An election specialist says by notarizing a petition, a notary doesn't necessarily approve of what the petition is supporting. She says notaries still have the right to refuse a petition for any reason.

"Just because someone puts a document in front of you, and you're a notary, doesn't mean that the law requires you to notarize anything that's set in front of you," said Lee Ann Oliver, election specialist.

Endres is still upset, saying politics should be left out of notarizing.

"Just check my ID, make sure the name is being signed there, and then we're done. That's it. I didn't want to start any problems," said Endres.

Petitioners said the campaign has at least 4,000 signatures so far.

They need about 13,000 by June if they want voters to see it on the ballot in 2018.

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