Cannabis legalization advocates in Maine have successfully cleared the hurdles of getting a recreational marijuana initiative approved for this November’s ballot, according to an Associated Press report. The referendum initiative now goes to lawmakers, who can either approve the proposal straight out or wait and let voters decide come November.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which is backed by the Marijuana Policy Project, submitted nearly 100,000 signatures last month after a lengthy petition.
While the initiative only required 61,123 valid signatures to be approved for the ballot, a legal challenge made by Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap nearly brought the whole campaign crashing to the ground. Dunlap originally rejected the initiative, saying that a faulty notary signature had led to more than 17,000 invalid signatures. Per Dunlap’s count, after the systematic disqualification of thousands of signatures, the campaign was still about 10,000 short.
Advocates challenged the rejection, filing a lawsuit against the petition’s disqualification. A Superior Court judge then ruled that it was unfair to disqualify signatures over slight differences in a notary’s handwriting, and sent the petition back to the secretary of state for reconsideration. Dunlap announced Wednesday that an additional 11,305 signatures had been approved, meaning the MPP-backed proposal was approved for November’s ballot.
David Boyer, Maine’s political director for the MPP, said, “We think that regulation and controlling marijuana and putting it behind the counter is a far better approach than giving drug dealers a monopoly.”
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