MAINE: Maine is moving forward with marijuana legalization as two pro-pot groups launch spring petition drives to ask residents to legalize recreational weed in 2016. While their goals are the same, the organizations remain divided on who exactly should lead the charge. One group, Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project, which played a key role in Colorado’s legal pot effort, wants its proposal to go before voters next year. Legalize Maine, however, wants marijuana legalization in the state to be a domestic effort, according to the Associated Press.
“With these large national groups, their agenda will always trump our local interests,” Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine, told the AP. The group said in a statement that “Mainers don’t need a group from Washington D.C. to dictate what’s best for them.” Each petition would need over 61,000 signatures to secure a place on the 2016 ballot. Legalize Maine’s proposal differs from the Marijuana Policy Project’s in that it would allow growers to sell cannabis directly to consumers and create so-called marijuana social clubs, according to the AP.
Maine legalized medical marijuana in 1999 with 61 percent voter approval, making it one of 23 states to allow patients to access cannabis for certain medical conditions. Lawmakers in Maine expanded the state’s legal marijuana initiative in 2009 to allow a wider range of patients to qualify for medical pot licenses as well as to permit dispensaries. Maine is among 19 states that have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, including provisions to prevent jail time.