Maine Voters Overwhelmingly Approve Medical Marijuana Initiative, Question 5

Press Release November 2, 2009
Media Contact

Jill Harris at (646) 335-2262 or Ethan Nadelmann at (646) 335-2240

Maine voters on Tuesday sent an unmistakable signal of support for medical marijuana in their state, approving Question 5, the Maine Medical Marijuana Initiative, with 59 percent of the vote (93 percent of precincts reporting). Voters approved the use of medical marijuana in Maine in 1999 with the passage of Question 2, but that measure provided no legal mechanism for patients to obtain their medicine. Question 5 mandates the creation of a regulated system of medical marijuana distribution to qualified patients through nonprofit dispensaries, and establishes a statewide ID card system to protect patients from arrest.

The ballot measure in Maine was the first opportunity for voters to weigh in on medical marijuana policy since the Obama administration’s announcement in October that it would halt prosecution of medical marijuana patients and caregivers who comply with state law.

“It’s great to see Maine leapfrog other states in adopting cutting-edge medical marijuana legislation,” said Jill Harris, Managing Director, Public Policy, at the Drug Policy Alliance. “What’s especially nice is that the medical marijuana guidelines recently issued by the U.S. Department of Justice provide reassurance to Maine officials that they can implement the new law without fear of reprisal by federal authorities.”

Thirteen states currently have medical marijuana laws on the books. The states that allow marijuana to be recommended and used for medical purposes are Alaska, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Maine, Michigan, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington.

The Drug Policy Alliance, the nation’s leading organization advocating alternatives to the drug war, and its 501(c)(4) affiliate, the Drug Policy Alliance Network, worked closely with Question 5 proponents in Maine and contributed $136,900 in support of Question 5. The Marijuana Policy Project also provided early support during the preparation phase of the campaign in 2008.

A young woman holds a sign that says "End the Drug War."

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