On Friday, Maine Gov. Paul LePage followed through on threats to veto legislation that would have started the process of implementing a regulated marijuana market that Maine voters called for when they approved Question 1 in 2016. The bill, which was supported overwhelmingly in the House and Senate, would have created rules for cultivation, processing, and retail establishments, as well as set tax rates for adult-use marijuana and delay marijuana social consumption lounges until summer 2019.
LD 1650 was the product of nearly seven months of transparent deliberations in the legislature that included input from a variety of stakeholders and concerned residents. Gov. LePage and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) attempted to circumvent this legislation by introducing a bill to officially delay marijuana retail sales until 2019, but it was defeated in late October.
MPP's David Boyer released the following statement:
Gov. LePage has made a mistake by vetoing this legislation. Instead of a regulated and controlled system of marijuana cultivation and sales, Maine will continue to support the unregulated market. In 2014, the governor said he would implement a legalization law if approved by voters, but he has failed to uphold that commitment.
We call on the legislature to override this ill-advised veto. The bipartisan compromise bill proposed by the legislature will allow Maine to establish the regulations necessary to implement the will of the people as expressed last November.
In Massachusetts, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker campaigned against the marijuana legalization initiative last year. However, he respected the outcome and moved forward with implementation of the law. It is unfortunate that Gov. LePage has not done the same. Seven other states have passed legalization initiatives over the past five years, and none have seen this type of obstructionism from their governors.
MPP will continue working with our allies and the legislature to make sure Maine voters gets the legal and regulated marijuana program they called for last year.
UPDATE: Legislative attempts to override the veto failed. MPP is urging lawmakers to address the issue immediately at the beginning of the next session.
Last week, the group opposing the successful initiative to make marijuana legal in Maine moved forward with a recount, despite the cost to the taxpayer and the very slim chances of overturning Question 1.
“We respectfully ask the No on 1 Campaign to follow the lead of the No on 2 Campaign and withdraw their recount request,” said David Boyer, Campaign Manager for the Yes on 1 Campaign. “There is no evidence that a recount would change the result of Question 1. At the same time, $500,000 would be wasted on the process of recounting ballots. That’s half a million taxpayer dollars that should be spent on heating homes and funding schools.”
The most recent statewide recount in Maine was the 2010 Oxford Casino initiative, when the opposition campaign demanded a recount. The Yes campaign won the original vote by 4,723 votes, and after roughly 20% of the recount was complete, the margin of victory actually increased.
Not satisfied with simply wasting taxpayer money, the prohibitionists couldn't even be bothered to show up to the first day of counting with the legally required number of people to count the votes!
David Boyer, campaign manager for Yes on 1, said volunteers with his campaign pitched in to count for the “No” side to keep the process going on Monday and Tuesday.
“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?”
Boyer said the No on 1 campaign’s “lack of organization is costing taxpayers more money because it’s going slower.”
The campaign in support of Question 1, the initiative to regulate and tax marijuana in Maine, held a news conference this week to announce its final push before the election, including the launch of its first TV ad.
The ad features former Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion, who spent 32 years in law enforcement and understands as well as anyone why it is time to end marijuana prohibition. Watch the ad below.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Maine filed a lawsuit in Kennebec County Superior Court on Thursday challenging the Secretary of State’s decision to disqualify the measure from the November ballot. According to the suit, which is now available online at http://bit.ly/1pzNhVO, state officials improperly invalidated thousands of signatures of registered Maine voters and unlawfully denied citizens their constitutional right to vote on the measure.
Campaign leader David Boyer and attorney Scott Anderson announced the details of the suit at a news conference in the office of Portland law firm Verrill Dana. Anderson is representing a group of Maine voters who signed the petition in support of the initiative, including Boyer, State Sen. Eric Brakey, and State Rep. Diane Russell, among others.
Last week, the Secretary of State’s Office announced that the proposed initiative did not qualify for the November ballot. 61,123 signatures of registered Maine voters were required, and state officials determined that initiative backers submitted 51,543 valid signatures. In a document explaining their determination, state officials said they invalidated more than 5,000 petitions, which included more than 26,000 total petition signatures, solely due to their finding that the signature of a notary did not “match” the signature the state has on file. It appears more than 17,000 signatures were otherwise valid signatures of registered Maine voters.
According to the initiative backers’ lawsuit, the Secretary of State’s decision is flawed because the disputed signatures do, in fact, match those on file and because the Secretary of State acted outside his authority in invalidating the petitions.
The Secretary of State did not provide any factual findings to explain how the notaries’ signatures on the petitions differed from those on file, and neither the state constitution nor the governing statute authorize the Secretary of State to disqualify otherwise valid petitions based on a subjective comparison of signatures performed by a non-expert employee. The suit also points out instances in which the Secretary of State invalidated petitions because the signature of the individual who notarized them did not match the signature on file, but validated other petitions in which the same individual signed as a circulator using the same signature.
On Wednesday, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Maine was notified that their ballot measure had failed to qualify for the ballot. The campaign turned in 99,229 signatures in February, but were told that nearly half of them were invalid. However, more than 17,000 valid signatures, more than enough to make the measure qualify for the ballot, were not counted. The reason: a handwriting technicality.
Supporters are not going to let the state take away the political voices of thousands of resident, and are appealing the decision. Now, the officials in charge of validating the signatures are mixing up their stories.
From U.S. News & World Report:
Maine officials have provided inconsistent accounts about whether they contacted a public notary before denying ballot access to a marijuana legalization initiative based solely on the belief the notary's handwriting was inconsistent on forms containing 17,000 otherwise valid signatures.
The various tellings of whether the notary was asked for an explanation come amid debate on whether they should have been contacted and whether the signature, which is required on petition forms, actually was inconsistent.
On Wednesday, Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap seemed to imply his office contacted the notary before its decision, telling Maine Public Radio, “it became apparent to us that we could not get good answers to our questions about the relationship between the notary and the circulator.”
But on Thursday, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office, Kristen Schulze Muszynski, told U.S. News election staff “did not directly follow up with the notary,” as their signature on forms was "markedly different" from one the state had on file and on other documents they had notarized.
“We're very concerned about the apparent lack of consistency in statements from the secretary of state,” [Campaign Director David] Boyer says. “When you are about to disenfranchise 17,000 registered voters based on a technicality, it is only logical to take a few simple steps to determine whether the notary signed the petitions or not.”
We will keep you posted as this story develops.
After months of hard work, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol in Maine have submitted over 100,000 signatures to the Maine Secretary of State. This effort would not have been possible without the dedication of Mainers who believe in ending the failed policy of marijuana prohibition, and the sheer number of signatures is a good indicator of how badly the people want to bring this issue to voters.
Soon, we will hear back from the Secretary of State, but we are very confident that our campaign collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the November ballot.
Two competing marijuana initiative campaigns in Maine announced they will unite behind one state ballot measure to end marijuana prohibition in 2016.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, backed by MPP, will stop collecting signatures in support of the initiative it filed in March and spearhead the campaign in support of a similar initiative filed in February by Legalize Maine. Each of the campaigns has collected approximately 40,000 signatures, and they will work together to collect the remaining signatures needed to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. They have until January to collect a total of approximately 61,000 valid signatures of registered Maine voters.
Portland Press Herald reports:
The development ends the fragmentation among supporters of legalization that made the movement vulnerable to divisions by opponents, and it also eliminates the possibility that voters would pass two legalization questions, which would have forced the legalization language into the hands of the Legislature.
While advocates say they’re confident Maine is ready for legalized marijuana, they were also concerned having two very similar proposals on the ballot would create confusion about voters who would have to parse out the differences. If both qualified for the ballot and were approved, the Legislature would have had to undertake the messy task of sorting out conflicts in statute.
“We’ve all been concerned about having two initiatives and splitting the vote,” said state Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, a longtime legalization advocate who has supported the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “I think when it comes down to it, the people of Maine support legalizing marijuana in a responsible, safe manner. There would have been confusion about which one to support.”
"Joining forces is the best step forward, not only for our respective campaigns, but for Maine as a whole," said David Boyer, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. "We all agree marijuana prohibition has been a colossal failure and that it must be replaced with a system in which marijuana is legal for adults and regulated like alcohol. We can more effectively accomplish our shared goal by combining our resources and working together instead of on parallel tracks.
“We had some differences of opinion on some of the specifics, but our initiatives were largely similar overall. We would not get behind this measure unless we were 100% confident that it will effectively and responsibly end prohibition in Maine. We’re also confident that the voters will agree."
Proponents of making marijuana legal in two of Maine’s largest cities, Lewiston and South Portland, have taken their message to the streets to bring more attention to Question 2 before next week’s vote. If the local referendums pass, they would make possession of up to an ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age and older.
“We want to draw attention to the important fact that marijuana is safer than alcohol,” explained David Boyer, Maine Political Director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “If adults want to use a safer substance, there is no reason they shouldn’t be allowed to.”
The Marijuana Policy Project created a mobile billboard to educate voters about their stance on the referendum. The organization argues that marijuana is safer than alcohol and that adults 21 and older should be allowed to use it. They also hope that the message draws the attention of voters to have their voices heard.
“It is not a presidential year, enthusiasm is not that high among the electorate, but with this issue people register for the first time, they come out to vote for the first time,” said Boyer. “We hear it down in South Portland, we see it here in Lewiston, people are fired-up to vote for this and not much else.”
If you are a Lewiston or South Portland resident, please take the initiative and go out and vote to implement a more sensible marijuana policy in your towns on November 4. Encourage family, friends, and neighbors to do the same! For voter information, visit Maine.gov.
According to the Portland Press Herald, the issue of whether to implement a regulated and legal adult marijuana control system in South Portland, Maine took center stage Wednesday at a debate over the upcoming vote. Among the points of contention were whether marijuana is safer than alcohol and whether making marijuana legal will increase teen use.
South Portland Police Chief Edward Googins, a vehement opponent, and Maine political director of the Marijuana Policy Project, David Boyer, debated over the proposal.
Googins continued to perpetuate the misinformation that marijuana is not safer than alcohol.
Boyer, on the other hand, argued that marijuana use is safer than alcohol use, which according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is attributed to 37,000 deaths across the country annually. Conversely, he noted that no deaths have been attributed to marijuana overdoses.
“Despite this potential harm of alcohol, most would agree adults should be able to responsibly use alcohol. Why should an adult of age to consume alcohol be prohibited from using or from possessing marijuana?” Boyer stated. “It’s time to move beyond ‘Reefer Madness’ and pass laws that make sense.”
In regards to the second point of contention, both Googins and Boyer agreed on ensuring marijuana stay out of the hands of children and teens. However, Googins argued that making marijuana legal would normalize the substance’s use and make it easier for youth to obtain. Boyer countered that marijuana is already prevalent and circulating throughout the community. A better approach would be to focus on preventing marijuana use among teens by allowing adults to purchase marijuana through licensed and regulated businesses.
“I don’t think kids should use marijuana,” Boyer said. “We need to be honest with our kids. Being dishonest with our kids and telling them alcohol is safer than marijuana is dangerous.”
The Current reported that a debate on the ordinance to make marijuana legal in South Portland will be held next week on Wednesday, October 22, from 7:00-8:30 p.m. in the auditorium of the South Portland High School, 637 Highland Avenue.
The South Portland School Department and Social Studies Department have arranged the event to give concerned residents the opportunity to educate themselves on the issues surrounding the referendum in South Portland prior to Election Day on November 4. If the referendum passes, it will allow residents to use and possess up to one ounce of marijuana, as well as allow the possession of paraphernalia.
Those participating in the debate include David Boyer, the Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, who will be arguing in favor of the passing of the ordinance, South Portland Police Chief, Edward Googins, who will be arguing against the passing of the ordinance, and Susan Sharon, of Maine Public Radio, who will be moderating the debate.
Please support the South Portland referendum by attending the debate and encourage friends, relatives, and neighbors to do the same!