Secretary of State, Matthew Dunlap, announced on Wednesday, that the proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in Maine has met the required number of signatures to appear on November’s ballot. Maine has been working towards getting this proposal to the ballot for the past couple of years. The House voted against it last year, but after overcoming the challenges put forth this year, it looks like 2016 will be the year the public casts its vote.
The Signature SNAFU
In February, the public-initiated Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol (CRMLA) gathered and presented more than the requisite signatures to get the proposal accepted for the November ballot. Unfortunately, thousands of signatures were disqualified by Dunlap as he believed there was a discrepancy with a notary signature. A review conducted by a judge, overturned Dunlap’s decision, describing the dispute as “unreasonable” and the court was presented with petitions containing 11,305 signatures by people who swore under oath that they signed their original petitions in front of notary Stavros Mendros. Dunlap already approved 51,543 signatures. With the additional 11,305 presented, there were enough to reach the 61,123 signatures needed to qualify the proposal. State lawmakers can now elect to pass the proposal now, or put it up for vote in the November ballot, which is the more likely option.
Regulation vs. Monopoly
Campaign manager for CRMLA David Boyer proclaimed, “This November, Maine voters will have the opportunity to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy. We are thrilled to finally start transitioning into the more substantive phase of this campaign. 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.” He is excited about educating the public on why changing Maine marijuana laws helps the community. He stated “we think that regulation and controlling marijuana and putting it behind the counter is a far better approach than giving drug dealers a monopoly.”
The Prospects of Maine Marijuana for Recreational Use
Maine already legalized medical marijuana in 1999. This new proposal states that Maine marijuana laws would allow adults over 21 to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for recreational use. It would also allow for a marijuana industry, with growers, processors, and stores. Recreational marijuana sales would be taxed at 10 percent. The initiative would introduce thousands of new jobs and a new income stream for the state, business owners, and working members of the public. Other states with recreational marijuana are making millions in revenue annually.
Maine marijuana laws are not the only ones in question this November. Several states around the country, including California and Nevada, are also voting on whether to finally overturn prohibition and legalize recreational marijuana for adults. Marijuana has been proven to have significant medicinal value and it is a much physically safer and healthier recreational alternative to alcohol. Studies also show that driving under the influence of marijuana incurs a low risk of incident, as opposed to alcohol which is high risk. Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon, and D.C. already legalized adult use in previous elections. It appears they will be joined by other states in 2016.