Pot legalization swept across the country this November 8th, with 4 states choosing to legalize recreational marijuana and 4 others expanding or legalizing medical marijuana. Not everyone is celebrating the news though. Maine in particular has a passionate “No on 1” campaign that is demanding a recount. The state passed the bill by 4,073 votes, which is a margin of just half a percent and the “No on 1” campaign demanded that the ballots be recounted in order to be sure. In order to execute the recount, 10 volunteers would be needed to count the ballots again. After all the demands and hassles, opponents of the bill were not able to provide 10 volunteers who were willing to take on the task.
A “Silly” Hassle
The recount could take over a month to complete and will cost the state around $500,000. Marijuana would have been officially legalized in January but the delays are likely to push back the process. “Yes on 1” campaign manager David Boyer, expressed frustration about the opposition’s inability to provide volunteers. More volunteers have stepped forward from the “Yes on 1” group in order to keep the process moving and save taxpayer money and that has added to Boyer’s frustration. “That is, quite frankly, silly. The whole point is to ensure the integrity of the vote and they can’t be bothered to do that,” he said. “What are we doing here?”
Excuses for a Lack of Volunteers
Attorney for the “No on 1” campaign, Newell Augur, responded to Boyer’s criticism, saying, “Certainly a lot of people from out of state invested millions of dollars trying to push this provision through. They obviously want to capitalize on their investment as soon as they can. This is our state, this is our election and we’re going to make sure the count is accurate.” He expressed that some of the volunteers were delayed by cold weather and child care issues and that many in the group have full time jobs.
The Future of Maine Pot Legalization
The recount is set to continue until December 16th at which point it will shut down for the year. It is set to resume on January 1st and continue until completed. So far, after recounting 37,000 ballots, “No on 1” has picked up 26 votes. Given these results and the margin in question, Boyer believes it to be statistically impossible to change the results now, although Augur argues that it is still appropriate given the close margin. 700,000 ballots from approximately 500 communities will need to be recounted before pot legalization can move forward in Maine. Once this happens it may take another year or so to get the infrastructure of the industry in place. Once legal, adults over 21 would be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow a small number of plants.
California, Nevada and Massachusetts all opted for pot legalization this year, joining Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and D.C. Only time will tell when Maine can officially join the other states in celebrating the end of prohibition.