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Judge Allows Maine Marijuana Initiative to Move Forward

Cannabis legalization efforts are back on in Maine after a state judge ruled that Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap (D) had “committed an error of law by applying a vague, subjective and/or unduly burdensome interpretation” of the law regarding petition signatures, the Bangor Daily News reported.

Last month Dunlap blocked the initiative to allow adults to use cannabis recreationally, saying proponents had submitted 51,543 valid signatures – 9,580 short of the 61,123 required to force the measure to appear on ballots in November.

“We are extremely pleased with the court’s decision to send our initiative back to the secretary of state for re-review,” David Boyer, manager of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said in a Reason.com report. “As was the case when we submitted our signatures to the secretary of state originally, we know that a sufficient number of registered voters signed the petition to qualify for the ballot. So this re-review should now be a mere formality.”

Dunlap’s office claimed that some signatures were initially rejected due to disparities between the Notary Public Stavros Mendros’ signature and the example they had on file. Mendros told the Portland Press Herald that he had, in fact, notarized the signatures in question.   

“While the State of Maine has a compelling interest to ensure that all petitions submitted for consideration in a direct initiative are valid,” Kennebec County Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy wrote in her decision, “requiring a Notary’s signature to appear identically on every petition signed is unreasonable and abridges the Constitutional right to initiative.”

Arizona, California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine are expected to have legalization initiatives on the fall ballot.

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