Maine could very well become one of the first states on the East Coast to have legal recreational marijuana this year, thanks to an effort by activists who thwarted an attempted to keep a voter initiative off the ballot in November.
Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap’s office agreed that the Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol campaign has successfully gathered the 61,000 signatures required to put the matter before voters.
Dunlap had recently told organisers who had gathered other 100,000 signatures that about half of the names on the list were invalid. Activists then challenged this in court, and a Kennebec Country Superior Court judge determined that Dunlap’s office had invalidated 5,000 forms without actually reviewing each one separately. The court then ordered Dunlap to perform another count, this led to the revised figure of 61,000 signatures, allowing the initiative to qualify for the November ballot.
“Seven circulators whose petition signatures were invalidated due to the notary signature of Stavros Mendros have submitted affidavits swearing under oath that they signed their petitions in front of Mendros as notary,” Dunlap’s office told the Press-Herald.
“Based on those sworn statements, Secretary Dunlap has now certified the 11,305 signatures collected by those circulators that meet the requirements to be included as valid signatures, despite the variability in the original notary signature on the circulator’s oath.”
If the initiative is approved, adults over the age of 21 in Maine will be able to possess up to 2.5oz of marijuana, and grow up to six flowering plants at home. Unlike some other states, Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol puts licensing and regulation responsibilities under the Maine dDepartment of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry. There would also be a 10% sales tax on all retail sales.
Main joins Florida and Nevada who have ballot initiatives for legalizing marijuana in 2016.