For the second time in a row, signatures have been submitted in York, Maine to put cannabis legalization to a vote. A group of pot enthusiasts is hoping their second time will be their lucky one. As it turns out, this is the second time in two months the group has presented the petition and town officials may still refuse to schedule a vote! How rude is that? The legalization advocacy group calls themselves “Citizens for a Safer Maine” and they have managed to collect more than 900 signatures, which they submitted on Wednesday and which is also nine times the number they submitted earlier. This means the last time they tried to push for legalization they had about 100 signatures in their pocket. That doesn’t sound like majority is in favor of legalization, does it? But then again, we actually have no idea how many people live in York, Maine, and we don’t want to Google it either. Go figure. Or better yet – go Google!
How Much Is Enough?
Ok, you don’t have to Google it, we found out how much of a town is included in the number: “This represents almost 12% of the town and almost 15 percent of voters in the last gubernatorial election. It’s not a small amount,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. Whichever the number, the reason why the group with their 100 signatures was rejected wasn’t the quantity; it was because the proposal wasn’t not “lawful”. According to state officials, the state and federal laws ban marijuana – at least that’s what the Board of Selectmen says. Nevertheless, Citizens for a Safer Maine needed at least 641 valid signatures to force the York Board of Selectmen to reconsider whether to hold a referendum. However, even with the 900 signatures they have now, it is still not clear if the Board will change their position or vote again against putting the referendum on ballot. One of the members said his opinion hasn’t changed although he would love to hear more legal advice before deciding for the second time on the same question.
What If They Get Rejected Again?
Interestingly, the petitioners might force a local vote under a little-used state law that allows a notary public to call for a town meeting when selectmen “unreasonably” refuse to call one. Unlike in York, the path to the ballot has been easier and more straightforward in South Portland and in Lewiston. In South Portland the question about legalization has already been placed on ballot. Citizens for a Safer Maine were hoping to get the larger picture from targeting South Portland, Lewiston and York as test communities, which would show them how Maine will view a statewide legalization effort. It will be interesting to follow the turn of events in York, Maine. Stay tuned!