An initiative to legalize marijuana in Maine failed to make the 2016 ballot today, after over 40,000 signatures legalization proponents submitted in favor of the proposal were invalidated due to irregularities. This left legalizers well short of the 61,123 signatures needed to put the initiative to a vote this fall.
Almost half of the signatures submitted (47,686 of 99,229) were declared invalid. More specifically, Maine election officials found that, among other irregularities:
Over 31,000 signatures were invalid because the signatures of petition circulators swearing that they witnessed signature collection did not match their signatures on file. (Indeed, one circulator was listed as the public notary on an incredible 5,099 petitions containing 26,779 signatures.)
Another 13,525 signatures were invalidated because they did not belong to a registered voter in the municipality where they were submitted.
“This is a huge sigh of relief for Mainers and our public health community, especially in a period where we are facing a serious and growing opiate crisis,” stated SAM Maine Director, Scott M. Gagnon. “The last thing we needed amidst an addiction crisis is increased access and availability to drugs. We are pleased that the Big Marijuana agenda will not be allowed to disrupt our efforts to protect and improve the health of Mainers and Maine communities.” Gagnon has written about how the marijuana industry is trying to cash in on the heroin epidemic.
Dr. Kevin Sabet, President of SAM added, “This represents a victory for public health over industry profits. Despite pouring money into Maine, it appears that the pot industry was unable to get enough real people to sign their petition. The fact that almost a full 50% of the signatures were invalidated casts a cloud over the entire legalization movement in the state.”
Marijuana lobbyists and industry groups have also tried to legalize marijuana by going through the state legislature multiple times. These efforts failed, also.