Marijuana is legal in Portland, Maine after a landslide victory on a referendum on Tuesday. PHOTO: Reuters
Marijuana is legal in Portland, Maine after voters chose to legalize cannabis in a roughly 70-30 landslide. Portland citizens may now possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Maine’s largest city is now in conflict with state and federal laws, where marijuana is still illegal. Of those two, state law may actually be the greater conflict. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder determined earlier this year that the federal government would not intrude on Colorado or Washington State, which voted to legalize marijuana in 2012. A big decision now sits before Maine Governor Paul LePage on whether and how hard he will push back against the Portland vote to legalize marijuana. LePage signed a bill in 2011 that allowed medical marijuana (legal in Maine) patients to remain anonymous and not enlist on a state registry.
David Boyer, of the Marijuana Policy Project applauded the Portland voters’ decision:
"Most Portlanders, like most Americans, are fed up with our nation's failed marijuana prohibition laws.”
Activists are planning a renewed push to legalize marijuana at the state level.
"Now that marijuana is legal for adults in Maine's largest city, there is an even greater need for comprehensive reform at the state level," said Boyer.
Marijuana legalization is now sure to become a hot issue in the Maine gubernatorial race in 2014. LePage is running for reelection. The one declared Democratic challenger to LePage, Mike Michaud, has supported Maine’s medical marijuana law
Politicians are never quite sure what to do about marijuana, but voters are unafraid to declare that marijuana prohibition has failed just as spectacularly as alcohol prohibition. It’s time to stop wasting billions of dollars on harmful and ineffective policies. Portland took a big step toward sensible marijuana policies, and the Maine statehouse would do well to follow.