Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Maine: Portland Voters Approve Marijuana Legalization With Landslide Vote

Submitted by steveelliott on Wed, 11/06/2013 -

By Steve Elliott    DavidBoyerMPPPortlandLegalization
Hemp News
Portland, Maine on Tuesday became the first city on the East Coast to legalize marijuana, with voters overwhelmingly approving ballot Question 1, an ordinance removing all penalties for adult possession of small amounts of cannabis.
Unofficial totals showed the proposal passing with 67 percent of the vote, 9,921 to 48,23, reports Randy Billings at the Portland Press Herald.
The city ordinance allows people 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana, and is seen by many activists as a foot in the door to statewide legalization. The immediate effects, however, are unclear.
Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck has already said that regardless of the vote, officers will continue enforcing Maine state law, under which possession of up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis can result in fines of $350 to $1,000, along with a civil summons. Selling or providing pot to others can result in criminal charges.
The city should respect the voters and not arrest or fine adults for marijuana possession, according to David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP). "We call on city officials to stop the bleeding," Boyer said. "It's time for the state of Maine to follow Portland."
MPP will try to legalize marijuana through the Maine Legislature, according to Boyer; if that doesn't work, it will attempt to get a statewide referendum on the 2016 ballot, he said. MPP spent more than $10,000 on the Portland campaign.
Portland's vote will energize Maine voters, according to state Rep. Diane Russell, who has already submitted two unsuccessful bills in the Legislature would would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol. One of them fell just four votes short in the House of Representatives.
"Volunteers have been working tirelessly to make Portland the first city on the East Coast to legalize marijuana for adults, and tonight we celebrate," Rep. Russell said, reports NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri. "This is truly a victory for science, for common sense and for liberty."
"We already successfully regulate marijuana for medical use and, with tonight's vote, it's now clear Mainers are ready to move forward responsibly regulating all adult marijuana sales," Rep. Russell ssaid.k "It's time to stop rewarding the drug cartels and start rewarding responsible business owners, while funding important state priorities with new tax revenue."
"We hope this resounding vote in Portland sends a loud and clear message, not just to lawmakers in August, but lawmakers nationwide, NORML's Altieri said. "We the people are ready for marijuana legalization and it is well past time for legislators to listen to their constituents and push for an end to the failed policy of prohibition."
When asked if the city would sue to block the new legalization ordinance, City Attorney Danielle West-Chuhta said "At this time, the city has not decided what next steps, if any, it will take with regard to the ordinance."
(Photo: David Boyer, Maine political director of the Marijuana Policy Project, speaks at a victory rally in Portland Tuesday night. Photo by John Patriquin/Portland Press Herald)

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