Portland’s Pot Vote Could Make It A Gateway City For Maine

November 10th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

by Susan Sharon, NPR

It’s been a big year in the marijuana legalization movement. Not only did Colorado and Washington voters make marijuana legal last November, but this week Coloradans approved a ballot measure to tax marijuana sales.

Also this week, Michigan voters in three cities removed penalties for possession. And in Portland, Maine, voters passed by an overwhelming margin an ordinance to legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces.

At a victory party at a Portland pub Tuesday night, activists lit up a foot-long joint and passed it around in celebration — until they were asked to put it out. Smoking pot in public is still illegal, and marijuana remains outlawed at the state and federal levels.

That’s why Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck says not much will change as a result of the city’s vote.

“State law pre-empts an ordinance of this sort, a local ordinance of any sort,” he says.

The other reason Sauschuck says it won’t change much is because Maine is one of 13 states that has already decriminalized marijuana possession. It’s just a civil offense, punishable by a fine of up to $1,000.

Portland police aren’t handing out many citations. They issued 54 last year and 68 the year before.

“This is nothing we’re going to be waiting around the corner to pounce on somebody who’s smoking a joint somewhere in possession of marijuana,” Sauschuck says. “But we will enforce the law when we come into contact with that.”

Health advocates warn that relaxing marijuana laws sends the wrong message to kids.

Article source: http://minnesota.publicradio.org/features/npr.php?id=244260355

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