Maine Prohibitionists Pursue Legalization Recount
How close is too close?
Published on December 6, 2016

The fate of Maine's marijuana industry rests in the hands of just a few thousand voters. Question 1, Maine's proposed recreational marijuana bill, passed by an incredibly slim margin of around 4,000 votes last November. That figure puts those in favor of Question 1 ahead by less than one percent. With a margin so low, the initiative's opponents aren't convinced they've lost the vote and they are now insisting to see a recount.

According to preliminary results from the Secretary of State’s Office, the initiative passed by 4,073 votes (381,692 to 377,619). The trust behind our nation's ballot box system hangs by a thread. Opponents of Question 2, which proposed tax surcharge on high-income households, tried and failed in their efforts to recount the votes for that initiative as well.

The No on 1 campaign and other opponents are exempt from paying for the recount, because the margin was so low. The recount began at 9 a.m. yesterday in the Florian Room of the Maine Department of Public Safety located in Augusta.

Alysia Melnick from the Yes on 1 campaign says that a recount could drag the implementation of the law past January. “Every day the implementation of this law is delayed there are adults out there who are subject to punishment for responsible use of marijuana,” Melnick told the Portland Press Herald. “And this delays responsible and effective implementation.”

Recreational cannabis did outstanding in the limited urban areas in Maine. Portland city residents voted 24,594-13,008, nearly two-to-one in favor of Question 1, despite the total votes representing only five percent of the population of Maine. 503 cities and town ballot boxes will have to be collected and recounted. State police estimate that it will cost $70,000 to collect the ballots from 100 towns, or over $350,000 total. Additional costs, such as overtime, will have to be factored in as well.

Assuming Maine's Question 1 stands after the recount, adults in Maine are allowed to possess 2.5 ounces of pot and retail locations would begin appearing within a year.

Benjamin M. Adams
Benjamin Adams is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in a slew of publications including CULTURE, Cannabis Now Magazine, and Vice. Follow Ben on Twitter @BenBot11
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