Oregon fines marijuana initiative proponents

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SALEM, Ore. (AP) -- Oregon elections officials say a group that wants to legalize marijuana has violated Oregon election law by paying petition circulators based on the number of signatures they collect.

The secretary of state's office said Monday that it has issued a $65,000 fine -- $2,500 for each of 26 pages collected by two people who told investigators they were paid on a per-signature basis.

Chief petitioner Robert Wolf says campaign officials believe the allegation is "without merit" and are still collecting signatures.

Voters approved a measure in 2002 making it illegal to pay petition circulators for each signature they collect. Proponents of that measure said per-signature payments encouraged fraud in the initiative process.

The proposed pot legalization measure would allow people at least 21 years old to use, possess and grow marijuana.