Maine Marijuana Initiative Qualifies for Ballot After Court-Ordered Petition Review

Maine Marijuana Initiative Officially Qualifies for November Ballot; New Poll Finds Solid Support Among Likely Voters

After a court-ordered review of petitions that it had previously invalidated, the Secretary of State’s Office determined initiative supporters submitted more than enough valid signatures to qualify

* Statement below from Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Campaign Manager David Boyer *

AUGUSTA, Maine — State officials announced Wednesday that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine has officially qualified for the November ballot.

After a court-ordered review of petitions it had previously invalidated, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office determined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than the 61,123 signatures that were needed to qualify.

Last month, the secretary of state informed the campaign that the initiative had been disqualified because only 51,543 valid signatures had been submitted. The campaign filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, and a Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled in their favor earlier this month after learning state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question. The petition was then remanded to the Secretary of State’s Office to review all of the disputed petitions and determine whether enough valid signatures were collected.

According to a new 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 at https://www.mprc.me/0416_referendums.

Statement from David Boyer, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol:

“This November, Maine voters will have the opportunity to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy. We are thrilled to finally start transitioning into the more substantive phase of this campaign. 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.

“It is time to replace the underground market with a regulated system of licensed marijuana businesses. It is time to redirect our state’s limited law enforcement resources toward addressing serious crimes instead of enforcing failed prohibition policies. And it is time to stop punishing adults for using a substance that is significantly less harmful than alcohol.”

Maine Court Rules in Favor of Marijuana Initiative Supporters

Court Rules in Favor of Maine Marijuana Initiative Supporters, Orders Secretary of State to Review Signatures That Were Improperly Invalidated

A Kennebec County Superior Court judge found that state officials erred when they disqualified thousands of petitions — including more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing them

* Statement below from Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Campaign Manager David Boyer *

AUGUSTA, Maine — A Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled on Friday that state officials may have improperly invalidated thousands of signatures of registered Maine voters and unlawfully denied citizens their constitutional right to vote on a proposed ballot initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol.

Justice Michaela Murphy found that state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question. The Secretary of State’s Office must now review all of the disputed petitions and place the initiative on the November ballot if it determines enough valid signatures were collected.

On March 2, Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap informed the campaign that its 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 his determination, the secretary of state said his office invalidated more than 5,000 petitions, which included more than 26,000 total petition signatures, solely due to its finding that the signature of a single notary did not “match” the signature the state has on file. On March 10, supporters of the initiative filed a lawsuit challenging the decision.

Statement from David Boyer, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol:

“We are extremely pleased with the court’s decision to send our initiative back to the secretary of state for re-review. As was the case when we submitted our signatures to the secretary of state originally, we know that a sufficient number of registered voters signed the petition to qualify for the ballot. So this re-review should now be a mere formality. Once the Secretary of State’s Office has completed its work, we look forward to launching the formal part of our campaign and educating Maine voters about the benefits of regulating marijuana like alcohol.”

We’ve sued them

It’s official! We have appealed and will fight to place our initiative on the November ballot.

Watch the story below:

 

Last week, we were shocked to hear that the Secretary of State rejected our initiative because of a handwriting technicality. And we vowed to challenge the decision.

Yesterday, we filed our lawsuit to ensure that Maine voters have the right to vote on this initiative in November.

Thanks to your generous donations, we were able to FIGHT back against this unjust decision with an excellent legal team.

But we aren’t in the clear yet. Over the next two weeks, we will be working hard to put together the strongest defense possible. Will you help us build our case with a donation of $5, $10, or whatever you can spare, right now?

UPDATE: Maine Marijuana Initiative Supporters File Lawsuit Challenging the Secretary of State’s Decision to Disqualify the Measure From the November Ballot

According to the suit — available 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

* Statement below from CRMLA Campaign Manager David Boyer *

PORTLAND, Maine — Backers of an initiative 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.

“We are confident that this appeal will result in the initiative appearing on the November ballot,” Boyer said. “Each of the petitions in question was properly signed by both the circulators and the notaries. There is simply no reason for the Secretary of State to reject more than 17,000 signatures from registered voters in the state.

“The Secretary of State’s Office did not follow procedures commonly used to ensure, in their words, the ‘integrity’ of the process,” he said. “The law dictates that these 17,000-plus signatures be counted.”

Protocol was broken

We now know that the Secretary of State broke department protocol during the certification process for our initiative. On Friday, a U.S. News and World Report article uncovered the fact that standard operating procedures that are intended to “ensure the integrity of the process” were not followed.

Our notary was not contacted. Yet, Secretary of State Matt Dunlap told WGME that his office attempted to contact our notary and that, “Obviously the answers were unsatisfactory.” Secretary Dunlap now claims that he “misspoke.”

With over 17,000 valid signatures on the line, why wasn’t our notary contacted? Doesn’t this call into question the integrity of the entire certification process?

Thanks to our supporters, we are halfway to our goal of $10,000 for our legal defense. We have retained a major law firm and will be fighting this in court.

Please donate $17 today to stand with the 17,000 voters that have been disenfranchised by our Secretary of the State
. We must file our appeal this week or it will be too late.

We’re not gonna take it

As you may have heard, the Secretary of State determined that we have not collected enough valid signatures to qualify for the ballot.

What you didn’t hear was that over 17,000 signatures were THROWN OUT simply because the notary’s signature did not exactly match their signature from FIVE YEARS AGO.

That’s right, we were disqualified over a handwriting technicality, and we’re not gonna take it.

Our team has reviewed the Secretary of State’s determination, and we believe that we have a strong case to reverse the decision.

We have 10 days to mount a challenge, and we need your help today. Please consider making a donation to support our legal efforts.

Stand with the campaign today so that we can make marijuana legal this November!

Help us cross the finish line

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana like Alcohol in Maine is hitting a milestone.

As of today, the campaign has nearly 80,000 signatures in hand! With one more major push, we can hit our goal of collecting 95,000 signatures by January 25.

But we still need your help to finish.

The campaign has some amazing volunteers travelling across the state, asking voters to sign the petition. But we need even more help on the ground to ensure that we can finish the signature drive on time. If you can spare a few hours, please join the campaign! Visit our website to learn more about current volunteer priorities, including our urgent need for additional petitioners.

If you can’t make it out to help gather signatures in the next few weeks, please consider making a robust financial contribution to the campaign. Consider how much money you’d pay to make marijuana legal in Maine. Here’s your chance to do just that! Even a $10 gift from each person receiving this message will help propel our efforts in a major way. Please give what you can and make your most generous donation today! 

Did you help end prohibition in Maine?

We have just over a month to finish our signature drive, and we need your help to guarantee that our initiative qualifies for the 2016 ballot.

Every day, dedicated Mainers are travelling across the state, asking voters to sign our petition. Will you join this effort by volunteering to collect signatures from friends, family, and colleagues?

Or, can you make a donation to the campaign to provide critical support for our signature drive?

Earlier this month, we held the Maine Marijuana Summit, which was a huge success! The event, presented by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol and Legalize Maine, brought together more than 100 activists, industry members, and patients to learn more about the campaign and how to get involved. There was a real sense of unity, determination, and excitement in the room.

Please consider volunteering or donating today. By generously contributing a few hours of your time or by making a donation, you can help end marijuana prohibition in Maine.

Thank you,

David Boyer
Campaign Manager