A measure legalizing the use of recreational marijuana has qualified to appear on Maine's general election ballot this year.
Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap announced Wednesday that the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, which had circulated the proposed measure to voters, had gathered the requisite number of signatures to appear on November's ballot. State lawmakers can now pass the measure themselves -- which the Portland Press Herald notes is unlikely to happen -- or let voters consider it.
The initiative would allow people 21 years or older to possess or grow small amounts of marijuana for recreational use. It would also allow state-regulated businesses to sell the substance and would impose a 10 percent tax on recreational cannabis sales.
Maine legalized medical marijuana in 1999.
"This November, Maine voters will have the opportunity to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy," David Boyer, the campaign manager of the pro-legalization effort, said in a statement. "We are thrilled to finally start transitioning into the more substantive phase of this campaign. It has been a longer wait than expected, but nothing compared to how long the people of Maine have been waiting to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition."
Recreational pot use is currently legal in four states and the District of Columbia. Several states, including California and Nevada, will also have legal marijuana on their ballots this year. (Twenty-four states plus D.C. allow medical marijuana use.)
Maine's measure, however, almost didn't make it on the ballot. In March, Dunlap's office determined that 17,000 of the signatures provided by the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol were invalid due to a discrepancy involving a notary's signature.
The pro-legalization group appealed, and a judge later reversed Dunlap's decision, describing the signature dispute as "unreasonable."
The state legislature also considered legalization last year, but the House voted it down 98-45.