SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine may quickly be going to pot.
Poll questions concerning the legalization of marijuana in two Maine cities are a run-as much as a statewide legalization drive in 2016, professional-marijuana activists say. They hope success in Tuesday’s election is a bellwether for a statewide vote to legalize the drug. Professional-pot activists are additionally following the votes to examine on the prospects of Maine turning into the third state within the nation to legalize.
Individuals in South Portland and Lewiston will vote on poll initiatives that might legalize possession of marijuana. Activists additionally tried to get a query on the poll in York however have been denied by the city’s Board of Selectmen.
The poll initiatives are designed to “construct help prematurely of our 2016 statewide initiative,” stated David Boyer, Maine political director for the Washington, D.C.-based mostly Marijuana Coverage Venture. He stated the statewide petition drive would doubtless happen in 2016 so the marijuana referendum can be on the poll throughout a excessive-turnout presidential election yr.
“We’ve not been shy about our plan to do a statewide initiative that might tax it in the identical method as alcohol and tobacco,” Boyer stated. “Marijuana is being bought day by day in these communities. Is it going to be by drug sellers, or by licensed sellers?”
The petitions name for the municipalities to permit individuals age 21 and older to own an oz of marijuana with out dealing with any penalty. Portland voters overwhelming permitted an analogous regulation of their city final yr. It stays illegal to purchase or promote marijuana or smoke it in public.
However not everyone seems to be so excessive on the thought. Regulation enforcement officers are adamant that marijuana possession stays illegal all through Maine underneath state regulation. Possession of marijuana beneath 2.5 ounces is a civil violation and a couple of.5 ounces to a pound is a misdemeanor. Greater than that may be a felony charge for possession with intent to distribute.
“Officers are obligation sure to implement state regulation, as long as that is on the books, it is a regulation that shall be enforced,” stated Roy McKinney, director of the Maine Drug Enforcement Company.
Officers in South Portland, Lewiston and York even have spoken out towards legalization. Lewiston Mayor Robert Macdonald stated he opposes legalization and city police will proceed implementing legal guidelines if it passes.
“It will probably move, however for those who mild up on the market, you are going to get summonsed, identical to now,” he stated. “Nothing’s going to vary, besides in your thoughts it will be OK.”
A 2013 Public Coverage Polling ballot stated Maine residents assume marijuana utilization ought to be authorized within the state by a forty eight to 39 margin. Senior residents have been the one group against it, whereas each different age bracket supported it by no less than 15 %.
State Rep. Diane Russell, who has made a handful of makes an attempt to legalize marijuana via state laws, stated legalizing marijuana via a patchwork of city and city legal guidelines is just not the proper strategy.
“I’ve no query that we’ll be legalizing. The query is when and the way,” the Portland Democrat stated. “Maine might be legalizing marijuana whether or not you prefer it or not, the query is whether or not we do it responsibly.”
Statewide legalization votes, and one other in Washington, D.C., are deliberate in Oregon and Alaska this fall. They might be a part of Colorado and Washington if handed.
The Maine city votes “will certainly give us a very good learn on the place the general public sentiment is” within the state, stated Erik Altieri, spokesman for NORML, a nationwide professional-marijuana advocacy group.
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