Commentary

Secretary of State Validates Marijuana Legalization Petition

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AUGUSTA – Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has issued an amended determination on remand from the Business and Consumer Court, finding that the citizens’ initiative petition for “An Act To Legalize Marijuana” has enough valid signatures to be presented to the Legislature for consideration.

On March 2, the Department of the Secretary of State found that the marijuana legalization petition effort did not submit enough valid signatures of Maine voters to qualify for the 2016 ballot. Of the 47,686 found invalid, 21,797 were due to significant variances in the signatures of five notaries, which did not match their official notary signatures on file.

In response, the petition proponents filed a legal challenge and the Business and Consumer Court ruled in their favor on April 8, reversing the department’s decision and remanding the matter back to the department for further action.

Seven circulators whose petition signatures were invalidated due to the notary signature of Stavros Mendros have submitted affidavits swearing under oath that they signed their petitions in front of Mendros as notary.

Based on those sworn statements, Secretary Dunlap has now certified the 11,305 signatures collected by those circulators that meet the requirements to be included as valid signatures, despite the variability in the original notary signature on the circulator’s oath.

The additional 11,305 certified signatures, combined with the 51,543 signatures previously deemed valid, results in a total of 62,848 valid signatures for this citizens’ initiative, which is above the minimum of 61,123.

The citizen’s initiative will now go before the Maine Legislature, whose members can choose to enact it as written, or send it on to voters for consideration at the statewide election in November 2016.

About Secretary of State

Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap of Old Town, Maine's 49th Secretary of State, is the first person to serve non-consecutive terms in that office since 1880. He previously served three terms as Maine's 47th Secretary of State. For more information, visit www.maine.gov/sos.

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