marijuana legalization

The people of South Portland Maine will be voting on marijuana legalization this November.

Earlier this year the Citizens for a Safer Maine collected enough valid signatures for the indirect initiative to qualify. By law the initiative needed to first go before the city council which had the option to directly approve it or let it go before the voters. On Monday, the council chose the later option and decided to put the measure on the upcoming November ballot according to WCSH6.

The measure would make it legal for adults 21 and over to possess up to an ounce of marijuana under South Portland’s local laws. It is modeled after a similar initiative which was overwhelmingly approved of by voters in Portland, Maine the year before.

The fact that marijuana possession would remain illegal under state law means the direct impact of its approval could be rather modest, but it will send a clear message to local politicians and police officers about how the community wants resources to be spent. It will also importantly help build support for larger reform efforts in the near future. For example theĀ results from the Portland vote last year provided strong evidence the Maine might be ready to follow the lead set by Colorado and Washington State.

There are currently plans to try for a state-wide marijuana legalization initiative in Maine during the 2016 election if local election results this year and future polling indicates there is sufficient popular support. The increased turnout of a Presidential year election will give the initiative its best chance of being approved.

Jon Walker is the author of After Legalization: Understanding the future of marijuana policy

Photo by Elvert Barnes under Creative Commons license