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.”