AUGUSTA — Maine voters will decide in November whether to legalize marijuana.

On Friday, the legalization campaign cleared the final procedural hurdle to place the issue on this fall’s statewide ballot. That happened when House and Senate lawmakers didn’t approve a citizen initiative seeking to allow adults to possess marijuana, opting to send the issue to voters instead.

It will join four other referendum questions that already have qualified for the November ballot.

Friday’s votes in the Legislature were anti-climactic given all of the turmoil surrounding the legalization campaign in recent months.

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol collected roughly 100,000 petition signatures in its effort to qualify for the ballot. But Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap invalidated nearly half of those signatures for various reasons, including inconsistencies between the notary signatures on file in his office and those on petition sheets.

The campaign appealed and three weeks ago a state court ordered the Secretary of State’s Office to review the signatures again. On Wednesday, Dunlap certified 11,305 signatures that had previously been invalidated after petition circulators submitted affidavits swearing under oath that they signed their petitions in front of a notary.


As a result, the campaign had amassed more than the 61,123 signatures to qualify for the ballot.

If voters approve the measure in November, Maine would join four states – Washington, Colorado, Alaska and Oregon – plus the District of Columbia in legalizing marijuana for recreational use by adults.

Voters in Maine’s largest city, Portland, as well as South Portland already have approved local referendum campaigns legalizing possession of small amounts of pot. However, the drug remains illegal under state and federal law.

Maine legalized the medicinal use of marijuana in 1999 and now has a state-regulated system of medical marijuana dispensaries and caregivers.

Maine voters also will decide on four other ballot questions seeking to: increase the state’s minimum wage to $12 an hour by 2020, expand background checks on private gun purchases, institute ranked-choice voting, and increase K-12 funding by increasing taxes on residents earning more than $200,000 a year.


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