Marijuana legalization supporters in Portland call campaign in city a preview …

September 14th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

PORTLAND, Maine — Supporters of a local referendum to legalize recreational use of marijuana in Maine’s largest city launched their official campaign Thursday, saying Portland can pave the way for a statewide end to prohibition of the drug like Denver did for Colorado in 2005.

Colorado’s largest city legalized possession of usable amounts of pot eight years ago in a step widely seen as a precursor to the statewide legalization in late 2012.

As was the case in Colorado before voters there OK’d recreational marijuana use, the medical use of marijuana is already legal in Maine through government-approved dispensaries and with doctor prescriptions. But with an ordinance change that would allow people in Portland to legally possess 2.5 ounces of the drug, referendum supporters said Thursday, those who need the pain relief offered by cannabis but can’t afford a doctor’s appointment will have access.

For those without medical concerns, the legalization advocates said, the measure would dramatically cut down on the amount of time and money the criminal justice system spends on nonviolent offenders.

The referendum will appear on Portland ballots on Nov. 5 after several local groups gathered more than the 1,500 petition signatures necessary to force a citywide vote on the subject.

Grainne Dunne, justice organizer with the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, made note of the oft-referenced statistic that Maine spends nearly $9 million annually enforcing marijuana laws.

“This is an opportunity to realign our justice priorities with our values,” Dunne said during the Thursday morning event at City Hall. “That’s money

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