Maine: Portland Voters to Decide on Marijuana Legalization in November

PORTLAND, ME — Voters in Portland will decide in November if they want to legalize marijuana possession by adults in Maine’s largest city following a public hearing held Monday evening in response  to a citizen-proposed ordinance that would allow those 21 or older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.

Citizens for a Safer Portland, a coalition of organizations that include the Portland Green Independent Committee, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, the Libertarian Party of Maine and the Marijuana Policy Project, collected nearly double the 1,500 signatures that were required to place the matter before the City Council.

Following Monday’s hearing, the City Council had three choices: adopt the ordinance as written, send the referendum to the voters, or offer an alternative proposal alongside the ordinance proposed by residents.

The city council voted 5-1 to send the proposed ordinance to the citywide ballot on November 5 to be decided by the voters.  City Councilor David Marshal, a proponent of marijuana legalization, was the lone vote in favor of adopting the ordinance immediately.

If approved by voters, the initiative would allow adults aged 21 and over to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana with city limits.  Currently, possession of the same amount of marijuana in the state of Maine is a fine-only offense.

The proposal would prohibit smoking of marijuana in public spaces, such as schools and on public transportation,and allow landlords to prohibit it in their apartments.

It’s unclear what effect the ordinance would have as it would contradict both state and federal law, although the possession of up to 2.5 ounces has been decriminalized to a civil infraction in the state, with a maximum fine of $600.

At the hearing Monday, the ordinance was opposed by the Maine Chiefs of Police Association, the Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, and a local substance abuse prevention group called 21 Reasons.

Maine law allows the medical use of marijuana, but a proposal to legalize marijuana for adult use statewide failed in the legislature earlier this year.

A state-wide ballot referendum to legalize marijuana for adult use is likely to be placed on the 2014 ballot, according to the Marijuana Policy Project.

Maine: Portland Voters to Decide on Marijuana Legalization in November was written by and appears in full on The Daily Chronic.

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