- On April 1, 2016
The Secretary of State in Maine has invalidated close to 17,000 signatures that would allow the question of adult use recreational cannabis to be on the November ballot. The technicality sited was that the single notary who signed the petition had a signature that did not match the signature on file. This in spite of the fact that the notary in question has sworn that both signatures were hers.
There is no doubt that prior to the election, this issue will end up in Court. David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project intends to challenge the ruling.
It is situations like these that should cause concern to those involved in the cannabis movement who believe that popular sentiment is all that is needed to move legislation forward. Just because you have the votes to win at the ballot box, it is of little consequence if you are unable to get the question on the ballot. The Secretary of State is well aware that voter turn out is highest in a Presidential election year, especially with the younger voters who are more inclined to vote in favor of adult use recreational cannabis, and that the chance of this same question passing in an off year is significantly lower.
Is this a perversion of justice or justice politics as usual? It will be interesting to see this play out as Maine has traditionally been one of the more liberal states on cannabis policy. Several municipalities, including Portland, have already taken the symbolic, although non-binding, step of legalizing recreational cannabis.
One thing is sure and that is that New England will be the most interesting battleground to watch when it comes to adult use of recreational cannabis in the coming years.