Marijuana

Judge Revives Maine's Marijuana Legalization Initiative

The ruling says the secretary state improperly rejected signatures based on an unreasonably narrow reading of the law.

|

Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol

It looks like Maine's marijuana legalization initiative, which Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap blocked last month, is back on track. Dunlap said the initiative's backers had submitted only 51,543 valid signatures, 9,580 short of the 61,123 required to qualify the measure for this fall's ballot. But on Friday a state judge ruled that Dunlap had improperly rejected petitions based on an unreasonably narrow and unconstitutionally burdensome reading of the law. 

"We are extremely pleased with the court's decision to send our initiative back to the secretary of state for re-review," said David Boyer, manager of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "As was the case when we submitted our signatures to the secretary of state originally, we know that a sufficient number of registered voters signed the petition to qualify for the ballot. So this re-review should now be a mere formality. Once the Secretary of State's Office has completed its work, we look forward to launching the formal part of our campaign and educating Maine voters about the benefits of regulating marijuana like alcohol."

The campaign submitted almost 100,000 signatures. Dunlap rejected nearly half of them, mostly because they appeared on petitions bearing a notary public's signature that he said did not match the signature on file with the state. Under state law, each petition has to be signed by its circulator, who swears in the presence of a notary that he saw each voter sign the petition and that the names are, as far as he knows, accurate. Dunlap's office claimed "it was not possible for us to determine that the commissioned Notary Public whose name appeared on these petitions actually administered the oath to the circulators of those petitions." Some 17,000 of the rejected signatures were on petitions certified by a single notary, who confirmed that he had signed them. Last week The Maine Sunday Telegram reported that a handwriting expert deemed the differences cited by Dunlap as consistent with the variations to be expected when someone hurriedly signs many documents in a row.

In a ruling issued on Friday, Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy concluded that Dunlap "committed an error of law by applying a vague, subjective and/or unduly burdensome interpretation" of a statute saying that "when performing a notarization, a notary public must sign by producing that notary public's official signature by hand in the same form as indicated on the notary public's commission." Dunlap read that provision as requiring a "match" between a notary's petition signature and his official signature. Furthermore, he rejected all petititions signed by a notary whose signature varied, rather than examining each petition separately.

Murphy writes that the law "could also be read to mean that in the absence of any evidence of fraud, it is assumed that a Notary's signature appears 'in the same form' as indicated on the Notary's commission." She says that interpretation is more respectful of the initiative process laid out by the state constitution. "While the State of Maine has a compelling interest to ensure that all petitions submitted for consideration in a direct initiative are valid," she writes, "requiring a Notary's signature to appear identically on every petition signed is unreasonable and abridges the Constitutional right to initiative."

Maine is one of five states where legalization measures are expected to appear on the ballot in November. The other four are Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

NEXT: Dennis Hastert Notwithstanding, the Structuring Law Is Unjust

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Yay?

    Was this ruling early enough to get it on the ballot this year?

    1. Maine is one of five states where legalization measures are expected to appear on the ballot in November. The other four are Arizona, California, Massachusetts, and Nevada.

      Expected to appear. Them’s weasel words.

    2. We are extremely pleased with the court’s decision to send our initiative back to the secretary of state for re-review…

      No, not guaranteed. The SoS still has to “review” it, whatever that means, but certainly an opportunity for more mischief and thwarting the will of the people.

    3. Pennsylvania pulls this bullshit all the time, requiring the PA Libertarian Party to go to court every election and bankrupting them. These corrupt judges deserve a bullet in the head.

  2. Guess those Connecticut drug dealers might as well stay where they are and peddle their death trade at home and get their own white women pregnant.

    1. Now CT and NY will have to deal with people with names like ‘Liam’ and ‘Wyatt’ coming down and peddling their Moxie and flannel and duck boots.

  3. Dunlap’s office claimed “it was not possible for us to determine that the commissioned Notary Public whose name appeared on these petitions actually administered the oath to the circulators of those petitions.”

    With all due respect, isn’t that what “the commissioned Notary Public whose name appeared on these petitions” determines?

    1. Strangely enough – for some reason they couldn’t just *ask* him if that was his signature.

      1. Well sure, their reason was they wanted to keep the signatures invalidated.

        1. This. It’s amazing what our betters in government are suddenly unable to determine when they don’t want to. Locally, a police spokescritter said that there was no way to determine whether a prominent politician’s car had valid registration, and an “investigative journalist” for the local newspaper reported that statement uncritically.

      2. I mean, that’s the whole fucking point, isn’t it?

        “This person claims you notarized this document, is this your signature?”

        “Yes, your honor, yes it is.”

        “I think we’re done here.” *judicial mic drop*

    2. That’s why they make telephones.

  4. “The employee stated that a person called them and told them there were high levels of carbon monoxide in their building, and they needed to break out all their windows,” said Thomas Larman with the Shawnee Fire Department.
    In a panic, workers used chairs to shatter the glass.

    http://www.aol.com/article/201…..cmp=hplnws

      1. THIS is CNN.

        http://www.cnn.com/2016/04/09/…..ing-prank/

        1. “Whoever did this could be charged with several things, including felony terrorist threats and felony criminal damage to property.”

          And a HATE CRIME, don’t forget *that*!

      2. It’s not nice to make fun of people for using AOL. That’s like making fun of a cripple for using a wheelchair.

        1. That analogy would only work if the wheelchair were a choice, and if AOL were useful.

          1. You’re no fun.

          2. wheelchairs are also:

            -more aesthetically pleasing
            -faster
            -reliable
            -cheaper

        2. When I get an email at work from an AOL account I die inside just a little bit more.

          1. I have a trash email account at AOL since they bought Netscape. I give it to everyone who will be sending me junk email (including Reason). Unless I have to reset a password, I never check it. Last time I looked I had 10k new unread emails.

          2. My kind-of-friend still has his AOL email. He just sent me something from it last week. I think he keeps it because of his belief that he made a clever Rage Against the Machine address he would never want to lose. NA187ME get it? killing in the name, get it?

  5. Want to meet a girl? come on http://goo.gl/ESXruj
    the Best adult Dating site!

    1. Is it really the best, tho?

  6. That’s the only state I’ve heard of that has such a 2-stage witnessing requirement on petitions, although I’m sure there are others I just don’t know about. Other jurisdictions require either that someone sign a statement of having witnessed the signatures, or that an official witness the turning in of the completed petitions. Requiring a notary to swear the original witness as to the witness statement is a bit much, isn’t it? But why stop there? Why not require that witness be sworn by yet another witness?

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.