Recently, the City Council unanimously approved a medical marijuana festival to take place in Deering Oaks on Aug. 9. This represents movement in the right direction by our city toward acceptance of the legality of marijuana, as overwhelmingly voted for by Portlanders in 2013.

However, even though the approval of this festival is a step in the right direction, the city still has a long way to go on protecting Portlanders who choose to legally grow and use marijuana.

In an article about the City Council decision (“Portland approves medical marijuana festival in Deering Oaks,” June 15), Councilor Jill Duson referred to the vote that legalized marijuana use in Portland as being “largely symbolic.”

When the 67 percent of those casting ballots went to the polls on Election Day 2013 and voted “yes,” they weren’t voting to legalize marijuana “symbolically.”

The growing number of people who continue to get fined and arrested for marijuana use and possession in Portland following the vote have not been fined and arrested “symbolically.”

The only “symbolic” thing in this whole matter is the City Council’s and Mayor Michael Brennan’s lack of leadership in directing our police force to not pursue marijuana users and cabin industry growers, symbolizing their disregard for the will of the voters and a longstanding tradition of home rule and local control.

Another huge missed opportunity that would be far from symbolic is the amount of money our city could generate in a cannabis tourism industry: an industry booming in Colorado and Washington state.

If the threat of prosecution had disappeared – as Portland voters believed it would with their vote to legalize – we could be in a much different spot as far as cannabis tourism is concerned.

Because of inaction and disregard of Portlanders on the part of the city, we need to get bigger and legalize it statewide.

Lauren Besanko