Upcoming Maine vote could serve as indicator of whether East Coast is ready to …

October 29th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

The Marijuana Policy Project, a Washington, D.C.-based group that supports legalization, says it targeted Portland because it’s Maine’s largest city and because, unlike many other states and cities, it has an initiative process to get the referendum on the ballot. Organizers hope passage of the Portland initiative could spur similar results in other liberal Northeast cities.

“I think there’s national implications, keeping the momentum that Washington and Colorado started last November in ending marijuana prohibition,” said David Boyer, the organization’s political director in Maine. “This is just the next domino.”

There’s no organized opposition to the referendum, but law enforcement and substance abuse groups are speaking out against it.

In reality, the vote in Portland won’t change anything because people aren’t being targeted by police for possession, said Kevin Sabet, director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a national alliance that opposes legalization and imprisoning people for marijuana possession.

Legalizing pot sends a message to youths that using marijuana is no big deal, when really it carries health risks including an increased heart rate, respiratory problems and memory problems, Sabet said. The Portland referendum is simply a first step toward establishing a marijuana industry, he said.

“People with small amounts of marijuana are not being locked up in jail,” he said. “This is really about a much bigger issue, which is moving toward the retail sales model where we really would be introducing our new version of Big Tobacco in Maine.”

If the ballot measure passes, it will be largely symbolic because it won’t override

Article source: http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/upcoming-maine-vote-could-serve-as-indicator-of-whether-east-coast-is-ready-to-legalize-pot/2013/10/19/870f67ba-38de-11e3-89db-8002ba99b894_story.html