Maine is one of four states that took the leap to approve legalizing adult use of marijuana during this November’s election – but they were also the only state to approve the initiative by less than a whole percent. With less than 5,000 votes pushing it through, Question 1 passed by 50.27% – and that was not enough to convince the No on 1 campaign that they had actually won. After petitioning to have the ballots recounted, which is allowed in the state when an initiative passes by less than 1.5%, the recount has officially been set to start December 1st.
Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap has said that it will take about six weeks for the recount – which would put their completion and final verdict around January 12th. If it weren’t for the recount, the law would be taking effect on January 7th and while there is a chance the recount could be finished early, we all know how unlikely that is to happen.
“With thousands of votes in the margin, the recount is not going to be successful, and it’s unfortunate the opposition would go against the will of the people and use taxpayer dollars for a recount that will not change the outcome,” Alysia Melnick of the Yes on 1 told the Press Herald.
While it is extremely unlikely that the results will be any different after the recount, the No on 1 campaign was persistent, and it will end up costing the state about $500,000 in order to orchestrate this recount – along with the weeks lost by those who are transporting and/or counting the ballots. It seems like a hefty price to pay – and there was almost two separate recounts expected to cost the same, but opponents of Question 2 (a question regarding raising taxes for certain income levels) withdrew their petition for a recount, leaving Question 1 the only one in question.
Assuming the recount goes as expected – and Question 1 did indeed pass, even by such a small percentage – then the law will take effect early in January at which point legislature will have to work out the logistics when it comes to industry standards and regulations. If all goes well, retail dispensaries could be open in Maine as early as January 2018 – though residents who wish to grow their own herb will be able to do so as soon as the start of next year. While a recount is frustrating and causes slight delays, since the chances of seeing a different outcome are extremely low, it will end up being more of a costly annoyance than anything else.