Opponents of Question 1, the ballot measure legalizing recreational marijuana Maine, have delivered an early Christmas present to supporters. They announced they are abandoning their recount effort and conceding that the yes side won.
Representatives from the No on 1 campaign gave notice to the Secretary of State’s Bureau of Elections Saturday afternoon to bring an end to the recount, which was scheduled to resume in January. They also contacted supporters to congratulate them on their victory.
“We promised folks that if we came to a point where we could not see any chance of reversing the result, we would not drag the process out,” said Newell Augur, legal counsel for No on 1. “We are satisfied that the count and the results are accurate.”
In a press release, Augur’s group, Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities, said the margin between the two sides narrowed to under 4,000 votes as a result of the recount. Unofficial results from the secretary of state’s office had put the margin of victory at 4,073 in the days after the election.
More than 200,000 ballots from 50 towns were counted over the past two weeks. Opponents say initial estimates peg the cost of the effort at less than $15,000. Had the recount continued into the next month, the cost to taxpayers was expected to increase to as much as $500,000.
Not surprisingly, David Boyer of the Yes On One says he is thrilled and grateful that implementation of the marijuana law can begin. Boyer says the next step is for Gov. Paul LePage to certify the election results. Thirty days after that it will be legal in Maine to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and to grow a small amount for personal use. But Boyer says it won’t be until early next year when Mainers can expect to be able to actually purchase marijuana from retail stores.