Moral Low Ground

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Voters in Portland, Maine Approve Recreational Marijuana Use

November 6, 2013 by Brett Wilkins in US Government with 0 Comments

In a landslide vote that advocates hope is a preview of an upcoming statewide legalization campaign, voters in Maine’s largest city have approved the recreational use of marijuana.

The Portland Press-Herald reports fully two-thirds of Portland voters passed Question 1, an ordinance that allows individuals aged 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces (71 grams) of cannabis.

Marijuana advocates credited a citywide grassroots effort to get out the vote for achieving what no other municipality on the East Coast has done. The Portland Green Independent Committee collected more than 2,500 signatures to get Question 1 on the ballot, and organizers of the legalization effort cited high voter turnout in an off-year election as a major reason why the measure passed.

“We’ve had dozens of volunteers on the street, going into neighborhoods, finding voters, bringing them to the polls,” Portland City Councillor David Marshall told the Bangor Daily News. “We had heavier voter turnout than expected in Portland… which was a really good sign, because our whole goal was to get the people who generally don’t vote in these off-year elections out to the polls in order to support this.”

Despite Tuesday’s vote, Portland Police Chief Michael Sauschuck warned that marijuana remains illegal under federal and state law, and that police will enforce those laws.

David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), is looking to capitalize on the momentum generated by the Portland vote to push for statewide legalization.

“It’s time for the state of Maine to follow Portland,” Boyer told the Press-Herald.

That’s what happened in Colorado, which legalized recreational marijuana use last November, seven years after voters in Denver, the state’s largest city, approved pot possession.

Boyer said that MPP will attempt to legalize recreational marijuana use statewide via legislation, but barring that, the group will work to get a legalization referendum on the 2016 ballot.

Nationwide, a majority of Americans are now in favor of legalization for the first time in polling history.

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