A Portland, Maine, campaign that aimed to put an initiative making marijuana possession the lowest law enforcement priority on this year’s November ballot is over, stymied by its failure to collect enough valid signatures. Although initiative sponsors Sensible Portland handed in well over the required number of signatures, a high number of them were found invalid by local election officials.
Sensible Portland turned in 2,141 signatures last month. They only needed 1,500 valid ones to make the ballot, but with an invalidation rate of more than one out of three–because the signers either didn’t live in Portland or weren’t registered to vote–they came up 93 votes short, with 1,407 valid signatures.
The group and supporters asked the city council to allow them an extra 10 days to collect the necessary signatures. But that effort was turned aside Monday night when the council voted unanimously to postpone any decision on the group’s request until October, making it impossible to get the measure on the ballot this year.
The campaign is down, but not out. Sensible Portland has vowed to continue signature-gathering with an eye toward qualifying for a later ballot.
Maine has already decriminalized the possession of up to 2 Â½ ounces of pot, but the fines are not insignificant, ranging from $350 to $600 for a first offense. The fine is $550 if you get busted a second time within six months.