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Maine Moving Toward Ending Marijuana Prohibition?

PHOTO: Maine could follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana use by 2016, according to advocates who have gotten pro-pot initiatives on the ballot in Lewiston and South Portland next month. Photo credit: Mark Scheerer.
PHOTO: Maine could follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington in legalizing recreational marijuana use by 2016, according to advocates who have gotten pro-pot initiatives on the ballot in Lewiston and South Portland next month. Photo credit: Mark Scheerer.
October 13, 2014

PORTLAND, Maine – Maine could follow in the footsteps of Colorado and Washington and legalize recreational marijuana use by 2016, according to advocates who have gotten pro-pot initiatives on the ballot in two Maine cities next month.

Voters in Lewiston and South Portland will be able to cast votes on Election Day to allow possession of one ounce or less of marijuana for recreational use by adults 21 and over.

The Maine political director of the Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project, David Boyer, has shepherded the efforts.

"We're working hard in both these cities to make sure voters know that marijuana is objectively safer than alcohol, less addictive, less toxic - and making sure they know it's on the ballot and to help get them out to vote," he stresses.

In both cities, passage of the measures would direct law enforcement to not go after adults possessing small amounts of marijuana, just as police have the discretion to let a speeding motorist off with only a warning.

The legalization, taxation and regulation of pot would be a matter requiring a statewide referendum.

Boyer says voters can count on such a referendum in Maine in 2016, the next presidential election year.

"These initiatives are most successful in presidential years because you have the most voter turnout, you have the highest percentage of young voters voting,” he explains. “They typically don't vote as much in off-year elections."

Boyer says in Lewiston, students at Bates College are enthused about ending pot prohibition in part because of their on-campus observations.

"They're all fired up about voting for this,” he says. “They see that alcohol can be responsible for some nasty things. And marijuana just isn't. You know, it's not found in domestic abuse or sexual assault situations as much as alcohol is."

Boyer adds he is, personally, far from a wild-eyed pro-pot activist. He was regional director of Ron Paul's unsuccessful bid for the Republican nomination for president in 2012.

"I've been working with Democrats, Independents, Republicans on this issue, as this issue - and I'm a good example of it - is nonpartisan," he says.

In York, the Board of Selectmen is fighting to keep the question off the local ballot there.

Mark Scheerer, Public News Service - ME