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STEVE ELLIOTT

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Marijuana may not become legal in Maine until January, despite a vote of the people approving Question 1.

David Boyer, Marijuana Policy Project: "Quote" [Yes On 1]
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David Boyer, Yes On 1:
“We won by thousands of votes, and a recount won’t change that”
[Marijuana Policy Project]

Opponents of Question 1, the Maine “regulate marijuana like alcohol” measure, have decided to proceed with a recount of the election result. According to Maine Secretary of State Janet T. Mills, Question 1 was approved by a margin of more than 4,400 votes.

“The results of the election are clear and the people have spoken,” said David Boyer, Campaign Manager for Yes on 1. “We won by thousands of votes, and a recount won’t change that. It’s unfortunate the opposition would go against the will of the people and waste hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on a recount that will do nothing to change the outcome of the election.”

Alysia Melnick, Yes On 1: "Quote" [Dave Wilkinson / Vimeo]
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Alysia Melnick, Yes On 1:
“The outcome of the election, while close, was clear and the people have spoken”
[Dave Wilkinson / Vimeo]

“The outcome of the election, while close, was clear and the people have spoken,” said Alysia Melnick of the Yes On 1 campaign, reports Gillian Graham at the Portland Press Herald. “With thousands of votes in the margin, the recount is not going to be successful and it’s unfortunate the opposition would go against the will of the people and use taxpayer dollars for a recount that will not change the outcome of the election.”

But Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities, which led the No On 1 campaign, aren’t giving up. “I think it’s due diligence because it was such a tight margin,” claimed Hillary Lister of Maine Matters Vote No, a group opposing Question 1. “Any initiative that is this close should have a recount.”

Newell Augur, No On 1 Campaign: "Quote" [Mainebiz]
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Newell Augur, No On 1 Campaign:
“With the tightness of the vote and the significance of this policy change, we feel strongly that a recount is the responsible thing to do”
[Mainebiz]

“With the tightness of the vote and the significance of this policy change, we feel strongly that a recount is the responsible thing to do,” said Newell Augur, the No On 1 Campaign’s legal counsel and senior advisor, reports WCSH Portland.

Even if the recount on Question 1 doesn’t change the results of the November 8 election — and it’s not expected to make any difference — the office of Atty. Gen. Mills said on Tuesday that it may not be legal for adults ot use cannabis in Maine until early next year, reports Gillian Graham at the Portland Press Herald.

Citizen initiatives in Maine don’t go into effect until 30 days after the state certifies and Governor Paul LePage proclaims the results, a process which itself can take 30 days. That means actual legalization might not take effect until January 7 if Secretary of State Matt Dunlap’s office and the Governor take all the time allowed before certifying and proclaiming the results.

Maine Gov. Paul LePage: Out-of-state drug dealers -- "guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty" -- have invaded Maine, and "half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave." [Fox News]
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Maine Gov. Paul LePage wants to wait and ask Donald Trump for permission to legalize:
LePage has suggested that out-of-state drug dealers — “guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” — have invaded Maine, and “half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave.”
[Fox News]

Dunlap said a statewide recount of nearly 770,000 ballots will take about six work weeks, and will cost taxpayers about $500,000, reports Mal Leary at Maine Public. He said from past legislative recounts, it’s unlikely a recount will uncover a “large error” — in other words, it will change nothing.

Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap: "Quote" [Troy R. Bennett / Bangor Daily News]
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Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap:
“Rarely do you discover new ballots that weren’t counted, that almost never happens”
[Andy Malloy / Kennebec Journal]

“It’s because something got missed or something got transposed in a number or tabulation sheet or something like that,” Dunlap said. “Rarely do you discover new ballots that weren’t counted, that almost never happens.”

Under Maine law, the ballots must be picked up by state troopers at each of 503 municipalities statewide and must be transported to state capitol Augusta for the recount, according to Dunlap. “We’re talking about six business weeks potentially, calculating about 25,000 ballots that you can count per day, by hand, and multiplying that out, you’re really talking about at least 30 days,” he said.

The Attorney General’s Office on Tuesday said it wanted to correct statements made by legalization advocates that possessing and using cannabis would become legal the week before Christmas. The Yes On 1 campaign believed that the state would take less than the maximum time allowed to certify election results.

Maine was one of three states voting last week to legalize recreational cannabis for adults 21 and older. California, Massachusetts, and Nevada voters also chose to legalize.

The unofficial tally shows 381,060 votes supporting Question 1 and 376,658 opposed, a margin of 4,402 votes, or less than 1 percent. Those totals include about 4,000 absentee ballots received by the state from members of the military and Mainers living overseas.

If the referendum proposal stands, it will become legal in Maine for adults to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis. Marijuana stores and social clubs would likely not open for about a year, giving the state time to set up licensing and regulation. Individual communities can institute zoning rules for retail stores and marijuana social clubs, or completely ban them.

One vocal opponent of Question 1 is Republican Gov. LePage. The Governor, apparently a little tremulous and not much of a leader, has suggested he “may wait” to see what President-elect Donald Trump’s position on marijuana legalization will be. LePage hews far to the right; just this year, he suggested out-of-state drug dealers — and just to make sure that we know who we are talking about, the Governor clarified these we re “guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty” and said “half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave.”

The newly passed law conflicts with federal law prohibiting marijuana; unlike the current Obama Administration, Trump could choose to strongly enforce federal law, especially if he, as has been hinted, appoints some moron like New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie or former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as U.S. Attorney General.

If Gov. LePage manages to overcome his reluctance to actually lead the state rather than asking Trump for permission to do so, once 30 days have passed since the Governor has proclaimed his certification of the election results, it will be officially legal for Mainers to possess and grow cannabis.

Buying weed, however, will still be something of a problem. Once the law takes effect, the Maine Department of Agriculture still has nine months to officially regulate and state’s new marijuana industry.

It’s only after this nine-month period, plus an additional 30 days, that the state will start taking applications for cannabis retail stores, cultivation facilities and social clubs, similar to Amsterdam-style “coffeeshops.” Municipalities will have the power to ban any marijuana from being produced or sold within city limits.

 

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