Opponents to the Yes on 1 campaign have conceded their challenge to Maine’s recreational marijuana program.
On Election Day 2016, Maine voters narrowly approved Question 1, which legalized the adult use of recreational marijuana and mandated that Maine residents 21 and over can possess and purchase up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Retail stores and social clubs were also approved through Question 1. And it allowed local municipalities to ban marijuana shops and set up a 10% local sales tax on all marijuana purchases.
After the initial voting tallies, Question 1 passed by just 4,073 votes (381,692 to 377,619), less than one percent of the total vote.
Petitions for a recount were submitted to Maine’s Secretary of State’s office shortly after the November 8 election. Larger voting precincts in the state’s urban areas started the recount process first. A second effort was expected for the smaller precincts. The recount stopped on Friday and was going to resume next month after the holiday season. But after a portion of the recount showed little reason to believe the November 8 results were not valid, the No on 1 campaign dropped their request.
Opponents of Question 1 found a silver lining in the defeat. “I think the first line of discussion is the individual Maine towns because they’re going to have and should have the right to say we don’t marijuana here,” said Newell Augur, legal counsel for the No on 1 campaign, according to NBC News. “They can pass moratoriums that will prevent that and I think a lot of towns who haven’t done it already are looking seriously at doing it.”
Supporters of Question 1 were optimistic that Maine can run the program sufficiently. They would like to see retail shops open within a year.
“Given that they (Colorado) could do it in a year, given that they were the first to do it, we see no reason why Maine can’t have marijuana up and running in about a year,” said David Boyer, former campaign manager for Yes on 1 and Maine Policy Director for the Marijuana Policy Project.