The effort to lift city and county bans on recreational marijuana sales has expanded as a Portland man and an Ontario resident have both filed preliminary paperwork to place the issue before voters in November. (The Enterprise/File).

New activists have stepped in an expanding effort to life the ban on recreational marijuana sales in Malheur County.

Ontario City Recorder Tori Barnett confirmed Wednesday morning that Tate Kapple, a Spokane businessman, pulled his ballot petition to legalize retail marijuana sales in Ontario. Barnett said he pulled the petition June 22. Kapple had not collected signatures.

Barnett said Portland resident Jeremy Archie has filed a preliminary ballot measure to lift the city’s ban and the Malheur County clerk has approved a prospective petition by Ontario resident Stormy Ray to revoke the county’s embargo on legal pot sales. The Malheur County Court Wednesday set in motion the process to create a county rule that would impose a sales tax on marijuana sales.

Meanwhile, a third pot petition – by Ontario residents Jahmel Cooke and Byron Shock and Vale resident Dave Eyler – is nearly ready for signatures.

The preliminary petitions from Ray and Archie are now awaiting a ballot title and a summary before they can gather signatures to refer the measures to voters. The Malheur County District Attorney's office creates the ballot title and summary for Ray. Ontario City Attorney Larry Sullivan will create a ballot title for Archie’s proposal.

Barnett said Cooke, Shock and Eyler still need to submit more paperwork before they can collect signatures. Barnett said the trio need to prove they have established a campaign account and created a statement of organization. Once they complete those steps they can collect signatures, said Barnett.

In 2014, voters statewide approved a measure legalizing marijuana and opening the door for dispensaries.

Voters in Malheur County, however, opposed the measure by nearly 70 percent. In Ontario, the vote was 1,588-911 against marijuana sales. By law, counties and cities could continue prohibiting commercial sales of marijuana if at least 60 percent of county voters said no to the state measure.

A year after the state vote, the Ontario council voted to ban dispensaries.