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Will Competing Maine Marijuana Legalization Campaigns Doom 2016 Efforts?


maine marijuana legalizationIn a perfect world, there would never be competing marijuana legalization efforts. Everyone would work together, and pool all of their collective resources, and get behind one campaign. Unfortunately, that is rarely the case. Everyone can agree on the end goal of ending marijuana prohibition, but when details, pride, ego, and money are added into the equation, factions are created fairly quickly. I have seen it happen time and time again, with most of the time creating an end result that is undesirable.

California is a great example. In 2012, 2014, and now in 2016, there are multiple efforts to legalize marijuana. Some of the reasons for the different initiatives are valid, and some of them don’t make sense to me. It’s tough to say what would have happened in 2012 and 2014 had everyone banded together. Maybe California would have legalized marijuana, maybe not. But we do know for a fact what happened when everyone wasn’t on the same page – defeat. Will that be the case in 2016? Only time will tell.

I saw a similar thing happen in 2012 in Oregon. There were multiple efforts to legalize marijuana, with two (OCTA and OMPI) being the most high profile efforts. OCTA made the ballot, but didn’t receive hardly any support from the campaign teams from the other initiatives, which contributed to its defeat. Although, it’s worth noting that it wasn’t the only contributing factor. Bad initiative language and a lack of a campaign by the initiative’s backers also contributed. We almost saw that happen again in 2014, but I’m happy to say that thanks in large part to national funding for Oregon Measure 91, Oregon was added to the list of states that have legalized marijuana.

Maine is very high on my list of states that are next to end marijuana prohibition. Polling has been strong in Maine for awhile now, but there are competing efforts to legalize there, which could prove to be disastrous. There is a local effort, Legalize Maine, and a national organization backed effort by the Marijuana Policy Project, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol. Both campaigns are gathering signatures, and from what media reports are hinting at out of Maine, they are not willing to work with each other. That is not uncommon when it comes to states where the Marijuana Policy Project is active, for better or worse.

There are also two efforts in the Maine Legislature to legalize marijuana. One is being spearheaded by Maine Representative Diane Russell (D-Portland), who has introduced similar legislation in the past. The other is being lead by Maine Representative Mark Dion (D-Portland). I’m not as concerned with the multiple efforts in the Maine Legislature as I am with the competing initiatives. When it comes to legislative legalization actions, the more the merrier in my opinion, as many bills never see the light of day. But with initiatives, efforts need a strong combination of national dollars (like that from the Marijuana Policy Project), and a strong coalition on the ground (like with Legalize Maine). Without one of the ingredients, success will be very difficult. It’s not impossible, but trying to end a decades old prohibition of marijuana is not an easy task in any state, and splitting resources instead of combining them makes it even harder.


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Johnny Green


  1. That’s because some of the groups are led by prohibitionist like you, who’s main goal is to derail legalization efforts. I hope a lot of people read your post and my response.

  2. unite and move forward at times, I think a lot of the people behind some of the organizations are actually prohibitionist using small groups to derail major organizations. DO”T LET THEM PLAY THE .GREED CARD!! Focus on what we want a group financial able to win. Who cares who make money. We want to change the status quo.

  3. no it does not. page 15, section H of the legalize maine initiative only allows for up to 800,000 square foot of canopy statewide. that limits suppliers to about 100. that is not good.

  4. Legalization is coming to Maine, one way or the other. Legalize Maine has the best bill by far for small family businesses in Maine. Most of the others have very tight restrictions on everything involved that only suit to benefit the large players. By the way, Maine has 8 state licensed dispensaries not 5. There are only 1 million residents in the whole state that is the size of the rest of New England put together. Maine has the second oldest MMJ program in the country after CA. Maine passed MMJ in 1999. We have been recognized nationally as having one of the best MMJ programs in the US by multiple sources.

  5. The polling data varies depending on the questions asked. The single question, “Do you think it should be legal for an adult to use Marijuana in their own home” always garners the highest percentile of responses. There is a message in this but no one seems to notice it.

  6. all the proposals in maine create very limited markets.
    none of these should pass and hopefully they do fight each other to demise.

    either way in all of the bills, only the five dispensaries that exist in all of maine are the maine ones to benefit.

  7. This says it all right here. With the limited window of opportunity to strike while the iron is hot it is imperative that movements recognize every dollar towards legalization is an important dollar. Every vote is an important vote. Every ground solider needs to be united in a single effort to get one initiative/measure in the hands of the people. This is no time for division in the ranks.

  8. “OCTA made the ballot, but didn’t receive hardly any support from the campaign teams from the other initiatives, which contributed to its defeat.”

    I feel it important at this juncture to mention that OCTA was not defeated. Paul Stanford pulled OCTA out of the race, which was a very honorable and unselfish thing to do on his part. Paul’s commitment to legalization in Oregon has always been total, and a lot of other people with Inits in other states that have more than one should learn from Paul’s unselfishness with pulling OCTA out of the race and get together on board with one Init to make sure that it passes. Kudos to you, Paul Stanford, you are a very honorable man.

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