Groups push to legalize pot possession in Portland

March 23rd, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

PORTLAND — A coalition of political groups and activists say marijuana possession should be legalized in Maine’s largest city, in part because they say the drug is significantly safer than alcohol.

The effort comes on the heels of the introduction of a bill in the state Legislature by Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, that would legalize, regulate and tax pot possession across Maine.

Tom MacMillan, chairman of the Portland Green Independent Committee, told the BDN Wednesday night his organization — and other like-minded groups — need to get 1,500 signatures of city residents on a petition seeking to place a referendum on whether to legalize pot possession on Portland’s November ballot.

The committee will be joined by representatives from the Marijuana Policy Project and the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, among others, for a news conference Thursday morning highlighting the petition, which MacMillan said has been circulated for nine days and already has “several hundred” signatures on it.

“By Portland doing this, we will really send a very clear message in the same way that Denver sent a very clear message to the rest of Colorado when they passed an ordinance in 2005,” MacMillan said. “Portland has tremendous power in the legislature. … We think sending a message that [the Portland delegation’s] constituents want this and demand it, it can’t hurt Rep. Russell’s bill.”

In 2005, voters in the city of Denver passed a law making it legal to possess a small amount of marijuana, making it the first major U.S. city to do so.

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