Portlanders to vote in November on legalizing small amounts of marijuana

July 18th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

PORTLAND, Maine — Portland voters will decide in November whether to make recreational marijuana possession legal in the city.

The Portland City Council voted Monday to have a referendum Nov. 5 seeking to allow adults 21 and older to possess up to 2 ½ ounces of pot. The law would prohibit using marijuana in public, and would not legalize the sale of it.

Referendum supporters turned in more than 2,500 valid signatures to Portland city officials in May. Rather than simply adopt the ordinance Monday, the City Council voted 5-1 to send it to voters.

If the referendum passes, the ordinance would conflict with federal law that makes marijuana illegal, as well as state law that allows people to use marijuana, but only for medical purposes.

At a press conference before the council meeting, advocates said marijuana laws are now costly and that marijuana is safer and less addictive than alcohol. They further said that pot laws now disproportionately affect black people because they’re arrested on marijuana possession charges at a higher rate than white people.

Police Chief Michael Sauschuck has said police are taking a wait-and-see approach on the referendum. He told the Portland Press Herald (http://bit.ly/15hCTSu ) that police issued 53 civil violations for marijuana possession from July 2012 to July 2013 and about 68 citations in the prior year.

Councilor John Coyne said he voted against having the question go to referendum because he’s concerned the city could lose state and federal funding if it legalizes marijuana.

Article source: http://www.therepublic.com/view/story/707328bce0d2417a88e09325080f5c6b/ME--Marijuana-Referendum