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Shocking Turnabout in Maine: Legalization is on the November Ballot

Maine’s legalization initiative just made a 180 degree turn. Earlier this morning Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap declared that the citizens’ initiative petition for “An Act to Legalize Marijuana” has officially qualified for the November ballot. That means Maine citizens will vote on full adult-use legalization this fall.

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That chance seemed lost last month, when the Secretary of State deemed 21,797 submitted signatures invalid due to a variance in the signature of notaries.

Notary Stavros Mendos was found to have inconsistent signatures on many of the submitted petitions. Mends later submitted an affidavit swearing under oath that he did in fact sign the challenged petitions. Advocates for the legalization measure challenged Secretary Dunlap’s ruling in court. A judge ruled in their favor and sent the case back to Dunlap’s office for reconsideration.

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Secretary Dunlap agreed to certify 11,305 signatures of the contested 21,797, for a grand total of 62,848 certified signatures—just above the legal minimum of 61,123.

“An Act to Legalize Marijuana” will now go before the Maine Legislature, whose members will have the option to enact it as it stands. If the Legislature declines to do so, the measure will be presented to voters during this November’s general election.

“We are thrilled to finally start transitioning into the more substantive phase of this campaign,” legalization campaign manager David Boyer said in a statement earlier today. “It has been a longer wait than expected, but nothing compared to how long the people of Maine have been waiting to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition."

According to a poll released this week by the Maine People’s Resource Center, nearly 54% of likely voters would approve the initiative if the election were held today. Only about 42% said they would oppose it. The full results are available here.

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Lisa Rough

Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.

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