Maine marijuana advocates ask judge to overturn ‘vague’ ballot denial

March 31st, 2016 by admin Leave a reply »

AUGUSTA, Maine — Proponents of a marijuana legalization ballot initiative disqualified by Maine Secretary of State Matthew Dunlap told a judge Wednesday that the decision relied on an “unconstitutionally vague” legal interpretation.

The court battle will decide the fate of a question that would make Maine the fifth state to legalize marijuana, and it revolves around more than 17,000 signatures notarized by Stavros Mendros, who’s at the center of another appeal over a failed York County casino question.

Advocates submitted more than 99,000 signatures to get the question on the 2016 Maine ballot — more than the required 61,123 valid signatures from voters. But in March, Dunlap threw out nearly 48,000 signatures for many reasons.

The appeal hinges on petition signatures notarized by Mendros. Petition circulators take an oath that says they personally witnessed all petition signatures, and a notary’s signature indicates that.

Dunlap’s office tossed all petitions notarized by Mendros after saying the signatures didn’t match his on-file signature and because it couldn’t be determined he witnessed them. The office does not have handwriting experts.

Portland attorney Scott Anderson, who represented legalization backers, including the Marijuana Policy Project, rejected that, telling Maine Superior Court Justice Michaela Murphy that Dunlap lacked evidence to support invalidating the petitions Mendros notarized and that Dunlap had interpreted the law in an “unconstitutionally vague” way.

Anderson said the ruling was an overbroad interpretation of a 2009 state law requiring notaries to sign documents “in the same form” as their signature on

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