It’s a big day in Portland, Maine. Voters will decide today whether or not to legalize marijuana in Portland. Question 1 would remove all penalties for possessing up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana by adults 21 and older. It would be a small but significant victory if Question 1 is approved today. Portland is Maine’s largest city, and if marijuana is legalized at the city level, it will boost the odds of any statewide efforts in the future.
Maine was once considered to be a top contender to be the first state to legalize marijuana via the legislature. However, as we reported on TWB recently, corporate interests squashed those efforts. Per the earlier article, ‘At the last minute, monied corporate interests representing established medical marijuana dispensaries came in and managed to flip one of the votes necessary to approve the bill for introduction. Their complaints were vague and they made the claim they were not invited to the table, despite the legislation being drafted to provide them with priority status when it came to applying for retail licenses. In truth, they walked away from the very table they said they were not invited to.’
The Portland Green Independent Committee was responsible for collecting more than 2,500 signatures to put the proposal before the Maine City Council for a vote. The Maine City Council voted 6-1 to put it on the ballot so voters could decide the issue. If this passes, it will have ramifications beyond Portland and even beyond Maine. There are activists all over the nation that will try to do the same thing in their cities.
It’s something that I have been supporting for a long time, ever since Columbia, Missouri decriminalized marijuana at the city level. It isn’t full legalization, however, it shows what activists can do at the city level when people at the state level refuse to do what’s right. 2,500 signatures is far less than it takes to run a statewide initiative, and a small handful of dedicated activists could gather the required signatures in their hometown very easily. I encourage all TWB readers to see if their hometown has a process like this, and if so, do it! Even if you don’t win, you get the conversation started.