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Newly-Passed Maine Marijuana Law Faces Twin Potential Threats

Supporters of Maine's new law legalizing adult possession of marijuana are optimistic it will withstand a threatened recount, and also the incoming Trump administration. (Regulate Maine)
Supporters of Maine's new law legalizing adult possession of marijuana are optimistic it will withstand a threatened recount, and also the incoming Trump administration. (Regulate Maine)
November 15, 2016

AUGUSTA, Maine – Tuesday marks one week since Maine passed Question One, making adult possession of marijuana legal, but the new law faces potential threats both from in state and from the incoming administration.

The "No on 1" campaign has until 5 P.M. Wednesday to present 100 signatures and follow through on its threat to demand a recount.

David Boyer, manager of the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, said the measure passed by a margin of more than 4,600 votes, so it is highly unlikely a recount effort would succeed.

Boyer said, "We think it is going to be a waste of taxpayer dollars; it's going to cost a a half-million [dollars] if not more. So, we'll see Wednesday – hopefully they won't do it, but who knows? They want to keep adults in jail for possessing marijuana, so I guess this wouldn't be out of the realm."

A spokesperson for the "No On 1" campaign called the 4,600 vote margin razor thin, and said the group wants to ensure a careful and accurate result. Boyer noted the initiative has faced challenges from the beginning, and already has weathered court challenges and survived.

Gov. Paul LePage continues to be an outspoken opponent of the ballot question, telling a Portland radio station (WGAN) last week that he will be talking to President-elect Donald Trump about it.

Boyer said he isn't overly concerned about the incoming administration when it comes to marijuana laws.

"Donald Trump did not say anything really that negative about marijuana," he said. "He understood medical marijuana and he thought it was OK for the states to do what they are doing with making it legal, and regulating it and taxing it. So, I think he won't get in the way, given that 60 percent of Americans support making marijuana legal."

Recent studies (JAMA 2014) show statewide legalization of marijuana is linked to lower state-level opioid overdoses. Boyer said given Maine's opioid epidemic, the new measure gives adults a safer alternative to pain management and withdrawal symptoms.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - ME