Competing marijuana legalization groups join forces behind one ballot question – Press Herald
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will now support the Legalize Maine initiative to allow adults to buy marijuana for recreational use.
Two competing marijuana legalization campaigns announced Monday that they will unite behind one statewide ballot measure in 2016.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a Marijuana Policy Project-backed campaign, will stop collecting signatures to support the initiative it filed in March that would set up a system to regulate the sale of marijuana to adults. That group will now spearhead the campaign in support of a similar initiative filed in February by Legalize Maine, which billed itself as a homegrown group supported by people in the agriculture and medical marijuana industries.
Each campaign had collected about 40,000 signatures. The groups will now work together to collect the remaining signatures needed to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. They have until January to collect 61,000 valid signatures of registered Maine voters.
“Joining forces is the best step forward, not only for our respective campaigns, but for Maine as a whole,” said David Boyer, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. “We all agree marijuana prohibition has been a colossal failure and that it must be replaced with a system in which marijuana is legal for adults and regulated like alcohol. We can more effectively accomplish our shared goal by combining resources and working together instead of on parallel tracks.”
Boyer said there are some differences on the specifics of the initiatives, but overall they were very similar. The decision to get behind the Legalize Maine initiative was made because the group is “100 percent confident it will effectively and responsibly end prohibition in Maine.”
Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine, called the joining of the campaigns “a major milestone in the path to ending marijuana prohibition in Maine.” “Either of these campaigns could be successful on their own, but together we can put our best feet forward in 2016,” he said. “Both campaigns have done a great job of educating voters, organizing volunteers and raising funds, and now we can ramp up those efforts even more.”
Maine has allowed medicinal marijuana use since 1999. If the state legalizes recreational marijuana, it will join a small number of western states that allow adults to buy and possess the drug. Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Washington D.C. have passed laws legalizing recreational pot.
A poll in the spring of 2015 by Critical Insights, a Portland market research firm, found that 65 percent of Mainers support legalizing marijuana. If it is legalized, 79 percent of people believe it should only be sold in licensed establishments, according to the poll.