Maine’s Question #1 This Fall: Legalize Cannabis?

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap announced June 27 that the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol will appear on the state ballot as Question 1. Historically, the first measure on a ballot gets more votes and has a higher chance of passage.

The final wording of the ballot question reads, “Do you want to allow the possession and use of marijuana under state law by persons who are at least 21 years of age, and allow the cultivation, manufacture, distribution, testing, and sale of marijuana and marijuana products subject to state regulation, taxation and local ordinance?”

Yes on 1 Campaign Manager David Boyer responded to the news with appreciation, but noted that:

“The wording of our ballot question is far more important than the order in which it will appear. It conveys to voters that the cultivation and sale of marijuana for adult use will be subject to regulation, taxation, and local control. We are pleased, as those themes comprise the core of our initiative and help explain the benefits of ending marijuana prohibition.

Several states have repealed marijuana prohibition over the past few years, and they are experiencing very positive results. Hundreds of millions of dollars in marijuana sales that used to take place in the underground market are now being conducted in tightly regulated businesses that are generating significant tax revenue and creating good jobs. We are confident that Question 1 will be just as successful, and we are looking forward to talking with voters about its many benefits.”

Getting the measure onto the ballot was a tricky process and only occurred after a court-ordered review of petitions in April 2016 of signatures the Maine Secretary of State’s Office had previously invalidated. The recount determined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than the 61,123 signatures it needed to qualify.

In March, the secretary of state informed the campaign that the initiative had been disqualified because only 51,543 valid signatures had been submitted. The campaign filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, and a Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled in their favor earlier this month after learning state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions—which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks—without actually reviewing every petition in question. The petition was then remanded to the Secretary of State’s Office to review all of the disputed petitions and determine whether enough valid signatures were collected.

According to an April 20 poll released by the Maine People’s Resource Center, nearly 54% of likely voters would approve the initiative if the election were held today. Only about 42% said they would oppose it.

Travel writer Rick Steves has offered $50,000 to match donations in support of the Maine initiative.

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