Portland Greens pursue referendum to legalize marijuana in city

March 5th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

Posted: 11:31 AM
Updated: 11:41 AM

Portland Greens pursue referendum to legalize marijuana in city

By Eric Russell erussell@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

PORTLAND — If the state of Maine is allowed to ignore federal law when it comes to medical marijuana, can the city of Portland ignore state law when it comes to all marijuana?

The Portland Green Independent Committee thinks so.

The group has begun collecting signatures for a referendum that would ask residents whether they want to legalize marijuana within city limits.

Supporters have 80 days to gather 1,500 valid signatures and force a referendum, which could happen as early as November.

The petition language has not been drafted, but the Greens are expected to propose legalizing the possession of up to 2.5 ounces as well as possession of drug paraphernalia, such as bongs or pipes.

Rep. Diane Russell, a Portland Democrat, already has submitted a bill that seeks to legalize marijuana statewide so that it can be taxed an regulated much like alcohol. That bill has not been debated. If it passes, it would prompt a statewide voter referendum and would make a Portland referendum redundant.

David Marshall, a Portland city councilor and a member of the Green Independents, said he’s not hopeful that the state legislature will pass a bill to legalize marijuana.

“Any progress that we’ve seen on this has come from voters,” he said Tuesday.

Marshall said the penalties for possession of a small amount of marijuana or for possession of paraphernalia are relatively minor, but

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