Portland police have issued more pot citations than before legalization

October 21st, 2014 by admin Leave a reply »

PORTLAND — Since Portland voters overwhelmingly approved a city ordinance last November locally legalizing possession of 2.5 ounces of marijuana, city police have issued 48 citations to individuals caught with the drug.

In the previous 10-month period, for comparison, Police Chief Michael Sauschuck said his department issued 33 such citations.

While the voter-approved ordinance nominally legalized possession and private recreational use of pot, state and federal laws still outlaw the drug.

Sauschuck and state Attorney General Janet Mills were clear in the aftermath of last November’s vote their offices would still be obligated to enforce state and federal laws, but the chief said his department has long considered marijuana offenses a low priority.

The new ordinance also demanded that Mayor Michael Brennan update the City Council on how police are enforcing marijuana laws each October.

The issue of enforcement also takes center stage as voters in two other Maine cities — neighboring South Portland and Lewiston — prepare to vote on Nov. 4 on similar local legalization ordinances.

In those communities, like in Portland a year ago, legalization advocates have acknowledged the disconnect between local and state laws, but urged police to respect the will of the voters and stop issuing summonses for the drug.

Tom MacMillan, chairman of the Portland Green Independent Committee, blasted the increase in Portland marijuana citations in a guest column posted on the Bangor Daily News blog, Fighting the Tides.

MacMillan argued that Portland police are not citing medical marijuana users even though Maine’s medical marijuana law conflicts with federal law, which presents

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