Maine Marijuana Vote Could Foretell East Coast’s View on Legalization

The outcome of a marijuana legalization vote in Portland, Maine on November 5 could indicate whether the East Coast is ready to follow the lead of Colorado and Washington state, the Associated Press reports.

The Portland measure would make it legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. They would not legally be allowed to purchase or sell marijuana.

David Boyer, political director of the Marijuana Policy Project, a marijuana legalization advocacy group, told the AP, “I think there’s national implications, keeping the momentum that Washington and Colorado started last November in ending marijuana prohibition. This is just the next domino.”

Currently, people in Portland are not being targeted by police for possession, so the measure would not have any real impact on the city, according to Kevin Sabet, director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. His group is a national alliance that opposes legalization and imprisoning people for marijuana possession. “People with small amounts of marijuana are not being locked up in jail,” he said. “This is really about a much bigger issue, which is moving toward the retail-sales model where we really would be introducing our new version of Big Tobacco in Maine.”

Mason Tvert, national communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said his group has identified 10 states where it will support legalization efforts in the next few years, including Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.