South Portland, Maine, Becomes Second East Coast City to Make Marijuana Legal for Adults; Similar Measure Receives 45% Support in Lewiston
Stage is set for 2016 statewide initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol
[Press Release] SOUTH PORTLAND – Voters in South Portland approved a ballot measure 52-48 Tuesday making it the second city on the East Coast to make marijuana legal for adults. A similar measure received 45% of the vote in Lewiston.
The South Portland initiative makes possession of up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. It will remain illegal for adults to consume or display marijuana in public. Voters in Portland, the state’s largest city, approved a similar measure in November 2013.
It also expresses support for ending marijuana prohibition at the state level and replacing it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. The Marijuana Policy Project, which backed all three local initiatives in Maine, has filed a committee to support a statewide ballot initiative in 2016.
Statement from David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, which supported the Lewiston and South Portland initiatives:
“We applaud the voters of South Portland for approving a more sensible approach to marijuana. They saw through the scare tactics and misinformation that have long kept marijuana illegal in this country. They chose facts over fear.
“Throughout our campaign, we argued that marijuana is safer than alcohol, and that it’s irrational to punish adults for choosing the less harmful substance. South Portland voters agreed. We hope local law enforcement will respect their decision and stop citing adults for simple marijuana possession. Police have vast discretion when it comes to whom they ticket and for what offense, and there is no legal reason why they cannot follow the will of the voters. It’s time to stop steering adults toward drinking by threatening to punish them if they make the safer choice to use marijuana.
“This is the first time voters in Lewiston have considered a measure making marijuana legal, so we are encouraged by the strong support it received in a midterm election. It bodes well for the statewide initiative we plan to run during the 2016 presidential election to regulate marijuana like alcohol.
“We are particularly pleased with the substantial and much-needed public dialogue these initiatives inspired throughout the state. Our campaign countered decades of anti-marijuana propaganda and misinformation by highlighting the simple fact that marijuana is far safer than alcohol. We made voters question the rationale behind laws that punish adults for choosing to use the less harmful substance. We look forward to continuing that dialogue leading up to 2016.”
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The Marijuana Policy Project, the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization, has been responsible for changing most state-level marijuana laws since 2000. For more information, visit http://www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.