September 12, 2013

Advocates launch drive to make marijuana legal in Portland

Passage of a city ordinance would be the first step toward statewide legalization.

By Randy Billings rbillings@pressherald.com
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

Today's poll: Marijuana in Portland

Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana use for adults in Portland?

Yes

No

View Results

click image to enlarge

In this in December 2012 file photo, Rachel Schaefer of Denver smokes marijuana on the opening night of Club 64, a marijuana-specific social club, now that recreational marijuana is legal in Colorado and Washington state. Buoyed by the federal government's relaxed stance toward states that legalize marijuana, advocates Thursday officially kicked off a campaign to legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults in Portland, Maine. (AP Photo/Brennan Linsley)

"It doesn't explicitly say you can go out and buy it, but there is sufficient gray area if somebody is caught in the act of purchasing," Marshall said, noting the language is designed to allow wiggle room in court.

The campaign is being spearheaded by the Maine Green Independent Party, which has raised $1,300 toward its $4,500 fundraising goal, according to Chairman Asher Platts, the "Yes on 1" campaign's outreach manager. Ten thousand fliers have been printed to date, he said.

Other groups will likely contribute time and resources to the campaign, including the Marijuana Policy Project, a national advocacy group that has designated Maine as one of 10 states where it's working to end marijuana prohibition by 2017.

Maine Political Director David Boyer said the national group is prepared to spend "whatever it takes" to pass the Portland ordinance, including purchasing ads on city buses. Similar efforts would be undertaken in any statewide initiative.

However, Boyer doesn't think a major investment is needed in Portland.

"Even if we didn't drop a cent, I think it would still pass," Boyer said.

Youth substance abuse counselors, meanwhile, are worried that the ongoing debate will inadvertently increase drug use among minors by reducing the perceived risk.

Jo Morrissey, project manager of 21 Reasons, hopes that proponents of the ordinance will make it clear that drug and alcohol use by young people is never acceptable.

"Our youth are listening and watching," Morrissey said.

Staff Writer Randy Billings can be contacted at 791-6346 or at:

rbillings@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @randybillings

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Today's poll: Marijuana in Portland

Do you support the legalization of recreational marijuana use for adults in Portland?

Yes

No

View Results