South Portland police chief, marijuana advocate debate legalization

October 23rd, 2014 by admin Leave a reply »

SOUTH PORTLAND — The issue of whether marijuana is safer than alcohol took center stage Wednesday at a debate over an upcoming vote on whether to legalize recreational marijuana use in South Portland.

Police Chief Edward Googins, a vocal opponent and David Boyer, Maine political director of the Marijuana Policy Project, sparred over the proposal, which would legalize possession of small amounts of the drug for adults. Lewiston voters will also be deciding next month whether to legalize recreational pot use.



Googins acknowledged that problems arise from alcohol use even though it is legal, but said that does not somehow make marijuana use safer. He said police most often cite people for marijuana possession when they are involved in other criminal activity. He said legalizing recreational marijuana “defies logic.”

“Marijuana and other drug use and abuse are intertwined with most criminal incidents we investigate,” he said. “It is not a harmless drug. It is addictive.”

Boyer, however, argued that marijuana use is safer than alcohol, which is attributed to 37,000 deaths nationally each year, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. No deaths have been attributed to marijuana overdoses, he said.

“Despite this potential harm of alcohol, most would agree adults should be able to responsibly use alcohol. Why should an adult of age to consume alcohol be prohibited from using or from possessing marijuana?” Boyer said. “It’s time to move beyond ‘Reefer Madness’ and pass laws that make sense.”

Both Googins and Boyer said

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