AUGUSTA, Maine — The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, a group hoping to place a ballot question before Maine voters to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, is reporting it has raised $53,011 in the second quarter of 2015.
But $50,000 of the donations came from the Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington-D.C. based advocacy group that claims 200,000 supporters nationwide with 4,000 in Maine.
“Mainers are clearly excited about the opportunity to end marijuana prohibition,” campaign manager David Boyer said in a prepared statement. “Most people agree that it’s time for our state to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy, and that’s exactly what we’re proposing. Regulating marijuana and taxing it like alcohol just makes sense.”
According to Boyer’s release, the bulk of the campaign donations collected, or 90 percent of the total, came from Maine residents.
“The campaign is in full swing,” Boyer said. “In addition to raising thousands of dollars, we have already collected several thousand signatures. If we can maintain this momentum, I’m confident we will have what it takes to qualify for the ballot and run a strong campaign in 2016.”
To be placed on the ballot in 2016, the campaign needs to collect at least 61,123 signatures from registered Maine voters.
State lawmakers earlier this year soundly rejected a pair of bills that would have put a question before voters on legalizing marijuana.
Meanwhile, another Maine-based group, Legalize Maine, also is working to collect signatures to place a question on the 2016 ballot.
Legalize Maine’s campaign president Paul McCarrier said Wednesday his group raised more than $25,000 during the same reporting period with most of it coming in small cash donations from Maine people.
The campaign’s largest contribution of $10,000 came from Spruce Valley LLC, a Rangeley-based company owned by Lucas Sirois, who is involved in Maine’s medical marijuana caregiver community.
McCarrier also said his group was moving quickly with its signature-gathering campaign and planned to make several other announcements in the days ahead.
The two campaigns have different approaches to how marijuana would be regulated and differ on a variety of issues, including how much marijuana an individual could possess and who would be allowed to grow marijuana for commercial sale in Maine.
Legalize Maine will ask voters to legalize up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana possession by adults 21 and older and legalize an unlimited number of retail sales establishments. Under its proposal, marijuana cultivation and sales would be regulated by the Maine Department of Agriculture.
The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol will ask voters to legalize possession of 1 ounce of marijuana by adults and no more than 70 retail stores in the first year of legalization. Its plan would see the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations regulate the new industry in Maine.
If both campaigns are successful, voters would be faced with picking between the two, supporting both or rejecting both.
The groups have until about Feb. 1, 2016, to submit their required number of signatures, according to Maine Secretary of State Matt Dunlap.