Two Competing Campaigns Aim to Put Marijuana Legalization On Maine Ballot

Maine has been recognized as a likely candidate for one of the next U.S. states to legalize cannabis. Last week, however, a new group called Legalize Maine unveiled a legalization plan that will run counter to the Marijuana Policy Project‘s existing push for a statewide referendum.

In a press conference on Wednesday, Legalize Maine announced that their plan will focus on jobs and the industry’s opportunity for economic development in the state’s rural areas. According to Paul McCarrier, spokesperson for Legalize Maine, his organization is moving forward with their plan after hearing from individuals who worked with the MPP in other states. “We are not interested in being subjugated to MPP or the Washington D.C. policy,” he said during the press conference. “These will be competing measures and we will win.”

Catherine Louis, Director of Education for the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, also expressed concerns that a nationally funded campaign might pressure certain aspects of the medical marijuana industry in a negative way. She noted an example from Washington state’s legalization program: “They started trying to push people into the mainstream legalized market for tax purposes and it has made it so that some patients can’t access their medicine at all, and we can’t allow that here in Maine.”

The Marijuana Policy Project has been planning a referendum question for the Maine 2016 ballot for some time. During the most recent midterms, the group put legalization questions on the ballots of South Portland and Portland, where legalization passed, and also in Lewiston, where it failed. “Ideally it makes sense to have one initiative,” said David Boyers of the Marijuana Policy Project. “But if we can’t see eye-to-eye then we will move forward and we hope voters choose the plan that will make marijuana legal and stop punishing adults for using a substance safer than alcohol.”

The MPP was founded in 1995 and has been working closely with efforts to legalize marijuana across the country. The organization was involved in the successful legalization campaigns of Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska, and the District of Columbia.

In addition to Maine, reports indicate that at least six other states could see initiatives to legalize cannabis on the 2016 ballot: Massachusetts, California, Missouri, Hawaii, Nevada, and Arizona.

Sources:

http://www.wcsh6.com/story/news/politics/2014/11/19/marijuana-legalization-plan-maine-pot/19260973/

http://wallstcheatsheet.com/politics/5-states-and-one-city-ready-to-legalize-marijuana.html/?a=viewall

Photo Credit: Randy Pertiet

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