Yesterday Maine's marijuana legalization initiative, which was temporarily derailed by a notary public's sloppy signature, qualified for this November's ballot.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which needed 61,123 signatures, submitted almost 100,000. But Secretary of State Matthew 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. Some 17,000 of the rejected signatures—enough to make a decisive difference—were on petitions certified by a single notary, who confirmed that he had signed them. But Dunlap said the notary's petition signature was not a close enough match to the one on his commission. Earlier this month, a judge ruled that Dunlap had read the relevant law too narrowly and ordered him to re-examine the rejected petitions.
"We are thrilled to finally start transitioning into the more substantive phase of this campaign," said campaign director David Boyer. "It has been a longer wait than expected, but nothing compared to how long the people of Maine have been waiting to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition."
The Maine initiative would allow adults 21 or older to possess, transport, and share up to two and a half ounces of marijuana and grow up to six flowering plants at home, along with 12 immature plants and an unlimited number of seedlings. It charges the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry with licensing and regulating commercial growers and retailers, imposing a 10 percent tax on sales. In addition to ordinary marijuana stores, where consumption would not be permitted, it allows "retail marijuana social clubs," which would sell cannabis products specifically for consumption on the premises.
A new poll by the Maine People's Resource Center puts support for the initiative at 54 percent, with 42 percent opposed and 4 percent undecided. "This November, Maine voters will have the opportunity to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy," Boyer said. "It is time to replace the underground market with a regulated system of licensed marijuana businesses. It is time to redirect our state's limited law enforcement resources toward addressing serious crimes instead of enforcing failed prohibition policies. And it is time to stop punishing adults for using a substance that is significantly less harmful than alcohol."
Maine is the second state, after Nevada, where a legalization initiative has qualified for this year's ballot. Legalization initiatives are also expected to appear on the ballot in Arizona, California, and Massachusetts.