Recreational marijuana was legalized in Portland, Maine, on Tuesday after a referendum titled “Question 1” passed with about 67 percent of the vote. The proposal makes it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to two and a half ounces of pot in the city.
Medical marijuana has been legal in Maine since 1999 and the vote to allow recreational pot came a year after Washington and Colorado voters passed statewide laws allowing possession of up to an ounce of marijuana, reports The San Francisco Chronicle.
David Bowyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, based in Washington, D.C., explained that Portland’s decision to legalize the drug “is just one domino in a series of dominoes that have been falling.”
Bowyer added that the referendum had “overwhelming support,” which shows that “our current policies aren’t working for marijuana and that they want to change.”
The Marijuana Policy Project provided financing and organizational support to legalize marijuana in Portland, Maine’s largest city. According to the group, the state is one of 10 that it will support statewide legalization efforts in the next few years, notes The Boston Herald.
While the vote makes Portland, Maine, the first city on the East Coast to legalize pot, it is largely symbolic. The referendum won’t override state and federal laws that make it illegal to possess marijuana, and in Maine, possessing two and a half ounces or less is already a civil offense. Violators are issued a ticket and fiend.
Critics of marijuana legalization claim that the drug carries a number of health risks and legalizing it will send a bad message to young people. However, supporters suggest that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and that legalizing pot is supported by a majority of Americans.
Democratic Rep. Diane Russell, from Portland, released a statement in support of Portland’s legalization efforts, saying, “This is truly a victory for science, for common sense and for liberty.” Russell added that they intend to introduce legislation to allow marijuana to be taxed and regulated like alcohol is. If the legislation fails, they will attempt to put it on the ballot for November 2016.
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