Portland, Maine Votes Overwhelmingly to Legalize Marijuana Possession

Supporters of Portland’s Question 1 claimed victory tonight, celebrating their work to make Portland the first city on the East Coast to legalize possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for adults over 21. Question 1 was approved by about 70% of the vote, with only around 30% voting in opposition.

“Volunteers have been working tirelessly to make Portland the first city on the East Coast to legalize marijuana for adults, and tonight we celebrate,” said Rep. Diane Russell. “This is truly a victory for science, for common sense and for liberty.”

Earlier this year, Russell’s bill, “An Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana” earned itself 35 co-sponsors, but fell just four votes short in the Maine House of Representatives. Since that time, the Department of Justice has released guidelines allowing states to move forward with regulating marijuana in a similar manner to alcohol. The populist Portland vote is seen as a litmus test of momentum for replacing prohibition with alcohol-style regulation.

“We already successfully regulate marijuana for medical use and, with tonight’s vote, it’s now clear Mainers are ready to move forward responsibly regulating all adult marijuana sales. We are calling on city officials to respect the will of the voters, and state leaders to get ahead of this issue with a Maine approach to taxing and regulating this commodity, much like we do alcohol,” said Russell. “It’s time to stop rewarding drug cartels and start rewarding responsible business owners, while funding important state priorities with new tax revenue.”

“We hope this resounding vote in Portland sends a loud and clear message, not just to lawmakers in Augusta, but lawmakers nationwide,” stated NORML Communications Director Erik Altieri, “We the people are ready for marijuana legalization and it is well past time for legislators to listen to their constituents and push for an end to the failed policy of prohibition.”

NORML and Representative Russell are still working to have statewide marijuana legalization statewide in 2014.

36 thoughts

  1. I’m so jealous of all the states that are slowly but surely making progress towards legalization or decriminalization. Here in Virginia, the leaders won’t even discuss it. Our new Governor won’t even mention the word and the only person, Libertarian Sarvis, who did run for Gov. in favor of legalization got less than 10% of the vote.

    I don’t believe, for one second, that the people of VA don’t want legalization. They just don’t have the intelligence to realize that they don’t have to vote for Republicans and Democrats. IF we could vote directly on the legalization/decriminalization issue I’m almost 100% positive that Virginians would pass it. It’s just so sad that we have to continue to live in fear of incarceration, or worse, for our choice to use a safe substance.

  2. @Miles Don’t get discouraged. I live here in Maine and the entire state felt this way as well( Once ).

    And YES the Portland ME. vote was Huge for us, ( Big WIN ) and at the moment it is just one town/city here in Maine, however since the vote was so overwhelming it goes onto the ballet for the entire state next.

    This will create a domino effect I am sure, once other states see the New taxes it brings to the states, and how much money they actually save trying to stop it, others will follow.

    What else can the US spend $42 billion each year on? Health insurance for kids? Better paid teachers? Money towards the U.S. deficit? It’s will be clear by all soon enough.

    Have you considered Joining a NORML chapter in your area?


    Don’t loose hope, It’s happening, All GREAT things take time, Everyday we are getting closer to the end of Marijuana Prohibition.

  3. Congrats Portland!

    Law Enforcement Against Prohibition can help MAINErs with getting the state completely regulated. We have several speakers in the region. Can some of you Maine folks help us with this effort?
    Contact me at mike.smithson@leap.cc and I’ll show you what just a few hrs each wk will make a difference.

    Well done, folks!

  4. @Miles Hang in there. Remember we are winning. Its just a matter of time before EVERYONE will be enjoying the freedom of choice that was ment for ALL Americans. Our Government has egg on their faces right now and thats a little hard for them to wash off. But they will wash it off because they have to.

  5. Congratulations!

    You can’t let the state stop the party before it even gets started. Maine’s state government and law enforcement need to stay out of this, and not go in and shut everything down. No federal raids! No state raids!

    Nipped in the bud, it might be any easy suppression, however if you put New York City in between, the federal forces will be overwhelmed on the East Coast. Bill de Blasio needs to get on board the cannabis money train something quick. He needs to get wise fast so somebody better bring him around to legalizing in NYC. Grow some balls. At the very least, he needs to allow Amsterdam-style coffeeshops by making cannabis offenses involving responsible use completely NONPROSECUTABLE. Cuomo needs to say he/new York state won’t spend a penny or more on cannabis prohibition enforcement.

    You know stop n frisk is back on again, so that is a damn good reason for deBlasio to move this issue forward toward the legalization end of the cannabis continuum. Hey, maybe you’ll change your mind once you see the pension and city maintenence future cost projections and if you don’t want to go all Detroit bankrupt and dilapidated and shit then maybe you’ll be smart and get the money off of pot.

    It’s money you didn’t have before, and ain’t nobody else yelling I Want To Pay More In Taxes like the cannabis community wantin’ to pay tax on weed.

    I mean, this is a no brainer. You don’t have a better plan to come up with tons of money so just DO IT!

  6. …said Rep. Diane Russell. “This is truly a victory for science, for common sense and for liberty.”

    I couldn’t have said it better.

  7. There are two kinds of people. Those that want to run other peoples lives and those that don’t.

  8. I’m proud to be a Mainiac. Maine is a great place and Portland is definitely the hippest of the smaller cities on the Eastern Seaboard if not the hippest period. The Old Port. Longfellow. Maine seascape artist Roger Deering had his first studio on Exchange Street in the 30’s. Around the corner from the Portland Observatory, John Ford grew up on the 3rd floor of a house on Munjoy Hill’s Sheridan St. with 12 other family members. And the Islands… Don’t forget about the island communities that make Portland a truly unique place to live.
    I could go on and on but what really makes Portland the great, hip, American city by the sea are the people. The people here are evolved, creative, aware, and independent free thinkers. Portland, Maine is the real deal and it’s only fitting that Portland, Maine – Longfellow’s “Jewel by the Sea” is the first city in the East to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
    Please come and visit our beautiful city. Don’t forget to have a big bowl of Haddock chowdah and some fresh Lobstah. You are going to have a big appetite.

  9. “Allows adults 21 or older to engage in activities for the purpose of ascertaining the possession of marijuana and paraphernalia”

    First Question: Hypothetically, as the law is written. Does the law allow you to grow 1 [bonsai] marijuana plant hydroponically? (Miniaturized marijuana is possible to grow, there are pictures of a 12 inch tall fully flowered plant grown under 400 watts HPS light. It yielded just over 10 grams dried.) Say the stem, roots and remaining leaves weight 1.85 ounces. The bud weights .45 ounces, prior to any drying. Would this not be legal in Portland if kept within your private residence in an opaque grow box with odor filtering system?

    Second Question: Does the law not make it legal to receive less than 2.5 ounces of cannabis by mail? The cannabis would not be in public view as it’s packaged, and can only be legally opened by the individual 21 years or older. For instance, tourist could use one of the many reputable illegal online markets to have cannabis mailed to their hotel? The tourist plan being to use a portable vaporizer in their hotel room on a setting low enough to not cause odor. While the purchase would be “illegal”, would receiving delivery of the mail package not be legal?

  10. When will Texans wise up and stand together as the largest state. We should be standing up to legalize because it just right to do so. Why should some state do it and others not? If it is legalized nationally then we the people will be free to light up if we want to.

  11. Maine is Gods Country, they Say! They also say “God is Within !” (Smiling) Thankyou PORTLAND !. Or should I say, Thankyou POTLAND ! (1st and # 1 City on the East Coast!)

  12. I’ll be vacationing very often in Portland if you have Amsterdam-style cannabis coffeeshops. New York City is a lot closer. I’m holding Bill De Blasio’s feet to the fire on doing something to undo the effects of Stop and Frisk. It’s back on in the city, and I demand the new mayor keep his promise immediately before the public forgets what he campaigned on and other stuff comes along in the news cycle that diverts people’s attention. I want Bill De Blasio to do whatever is necessary to make Amsterdam-style coffeeshops legali in NYC, and with the back door problem solved, i.e. cultivation is legal to supply the shops, both small scale individual and commercial suppliers, banking is legal, and adults recreational use is allowed without professional licenses being lost for cannabis.

    If you ask a cop in Amsterdam where a cannabis coffeeshop is, they’ll tell you and give you directions, no hassle. I want it that way in NYC. I want to be able to ask a cop and it’s absolutely nothing to them. You know New Yorkers, they don’t give a shit about the little things, especially things like cannabis taxes that are going to fund your freakin’ pensions.

  13. I’m stunned… still have a tough time believing it’s really true. I have family in Portland, and really love going there. I live in NH so it’s not far. The family was going to sell their house, but I told them, “don’t sell now, your property values just started to go up…”

    Way to go Portland voters!!! Thank-you!

  14. How many states have to be on board for complete legalization of marijuana for it to force it to be federally legal?

  15. I’m so happy Portland took the initiative. Makes me want to move there. I should think real estate will be going up there.
    Hope NH follows suit.

  16. Watch Out. The plan that was endorsed would have pushed small growers out. It would have made the only source sanctioned and taxed dispensaries.
    Be careful what you wish for ME.

    [Editor’s note: Really? Is this true? The voter initiative in Portland that passed overwhelmingly has no effect at all on small or large cannabis producers. What specifically is wrong with legal, taxed and regulated cannabis…unless you’re either a prohibitionist or selling over-priced Prohibition cannabis?

    Nothing to watch out for in Maine except medical cannabis associations and individual dispensaries fighting the current legalization bill. Do in fact be careful in Maine, or like in CA in 2010 and WA in 2012 the current medical cannabis industry will oppose the legalization efforts of non-profit criminal justice reform groups historically working to end the horrors of Cannabis Prohibition like NORML, ACLU, DPA, MPP, CAN, LEAP, SSDP, etc…in favor of maintaining the status quo.]

  17. This is NOT what is being said at all! This is actually the opposite of what you are stating. I can speak to this as I am on Diane’s committee and this is one of the MANY great benefits, Maine Growers, EST. 13 million in a New Tax here in Maine and simply, because it is the right thing to do!

    We just had a press conference today in Portland ME, I will have the full version for you shortly, as it speaks to the topic you are concerned about. It is the dispensaries here in Maine who are now against this, as they are concerned about their own pockets as this will produce Maine growers here in our state.

  18. End the prohibition. I am all for that. What Portland did is great. I am also for any legislation that removes marijuana from our courts and legal system. The issue I have is the proposed legislation for ME as whole state did not allow for people to grow for themselves. Leaving it an open market for corporate greed, which this country has enough of.

    [Editor’s note: In politics, don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. The notion of opposing a LEGALIZATION bill in your state because all aspects of it don’t meet your muster is short sighted. Maybe growing your own cannabis in your view is ‘legalization’, while others see legalization as ending the mass arrests and discrimination against cannabis consumers (which includes medical patients who give up numerous basic civil rights to use cannabis) and creating efficient distribution such that the price of this vegetable matter is as low cost and high quality as possible for the consumers.

    Just as with cannabis legalization legislation (or initiatives) that seek to change laws that citizens don’t like, if there are aspects of the reformed cannabis laws that you and your brethren want to organize around to improve the laws in your eyes–ie, passing home cultivation laws–then think of that as the next challenge in the long continuum of cannabis law reform where reform rarely occurs in large, politically perfect blocks.

    NORML has supported home cultivation of cannabis since 1970. However, if a state or federal government seeks to legalize cannabis for responsible adult use, and the pro-reform legislators can’t pass legislation allowing adults to cultivate for personal use, the organization will lodge the obvious compliant: cannabis consumers should be able to cultivate a personal amount of cannabis in the same manner adults can produce small batches of brew or wine at home. However, if legislation advances and is signed into law NORML’s complaint not withstanding, this LEGALIZATION organization is not going to oppose it because home cultivation is not included.

    If the most important aspects of cannabis prohibition can be ameliorated through reform legislation (or initiatives)–aggressive law enforcement, arrests, prosecutions, incarceration, civil forfeiture, loss of parental rights, drug testing, etc…–then NORML is going to be a drum major for the consequential and cataclysmic changes wrought from such, even if, on occasion, home cultivation provisions are not part of a final legislative package or binding voter initiative.

    To hold up the end of cannabis prohibition for the immutable want to also be able to cultivate cannabis at home–notably at the onset of cannabis migrating from an illegal status to one of taxed/regulated “adult commerce”–after almost 80 years of mass, life-altering arrests for cannabis continuing (over 700,000 in America; 90% for possession only) would seem to NORML selfish, short-sighted and bad karma.

    Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good in cannabis law reform…or the reforms are delayed, natural allies who otherwise should be rocking cannabis prohibition out together instead waste time, energy and resources fighting over rather smallish items on a far grander battlefield. Also, otherwise supportive elected policy makers and other politicos equally become divided, and opponents of reform exploit the political divisions manifested in the minor details of comprehensive cannabis law reform that they can’t negatively impact.

    NORML was first entry on the battlefield for cannabis law reforms, alone those too many years ago–joined now by dozens of other non-profit organizations and for-profit corporations–not for the ‘right to grow pot at home’, but to end cannabis prohibition in America and the criminal sanctions against adults who choose to use cannabis responsibly.]

  19. Separate issues all bundled into one colossal package; I think we tend to think about life as a chess game, a football game, a poker match…

    Marijuana is not alcohol. It is a plant and I feel you failed to clarify why a person should be forbidden to grow a plant. If poison ivy is legal and castor beans are legal, why shouldn’t cannabis be legal?

    I hear you we have made great progress in correctly and seeing enacted phenomenal legislation that essentially has turned the tide in the “War Against Drugs”, namely marijuana.

    But there is a human side to all of this… a deeply human side. I live in NH. NH recently signed a medical marijuana act into law. NH was a hold out for New England states, and the former governor seems to me to be responsible for that.

    But even with reform comes the truth. It will be two years before patients, most of whom are terminal, can have MM. The registration process looks like something out of Nazi Germany, circa 1936.

    PTSD is not covered, and several studies have shown that military veterans with PTSD benefit from use of medical marijuana. One very important way to alleviate the diversity of laws and new enactments to legalizing marijuana seems to me to be legalizing it as a plant, that god gave us, that we can grow ourselves. Use at home.

    Outside of that great strides have been made… and that should not be taken for granted. But at the core of the solution there remains, individual rights. Our right to grow our own plants.

    Prohibit painting. Yeah, painting. Or photography? Prohibit growing roses. Next thing you know you have to hire someone who can lawfully provide for you.

    There’s no plant humans should be forbidden to grow, or have governments legislate what plants we can’t grow. Education teaches us to stay away from poison ivy. Don’t eat strange red berries with a blue dot.

    Legalize the plant, then bicker about the laws… let artists do their thing! Growing plants is an art, and it is illegal under the US Constitution to ban art.

  20. I agree that a plant put there by nature should not be taxed or controlled in any way by our Government or any one else. Nor should it be prohibited for people who want to grow it for their own use. No different than growing hops or grapes. I wish New Hampshire would come out of the dark ages and grow up.

  21. THE POT DOCTOR HAS A BACKACHE. As Mahmoud ElSohly, Ph.D. shakes my hand, he’s wincing. Two days ago, ElSohly—the director of the University of Mississippi’s Marijuana Project—bent down the wrong way and threw out his back. And unfortunately, this morning’s visit to his chiropractor didn’t help him much.

    Ironically, just outside ElSohly’s office in the Waller Complex—behind bolted doors, coded chambers, and security cameras—lies a government-guarded farm where acres of a pain-relieving drug grow in his care. Only Elsohly isn’t thinking about lighting up: He knows too much.

    READ A HEADLINE TOUTING A POT STUDY, and it’s likely referencing the University of Mississippi’s carefully cultivated Mexican marijuana. In fact, the National Institute on Drug Abuse has named this lab the country’s one legal source of marijuana for scientific studies. It’s been operating quietly since about 1968—growing, harvesting, processing, standardizing, and analyzing marijuana.

    The farm grows strains for testing with varying amounts of pot’s potent ingredient, tetrahydrocannabinol or THC—also known as the chemical that makes you “high.” But it does more than that. “There are many indications for which THC would be a good medicine if you have the right formulations and dosing,” says Dr. ElSohly.

    Unfortunately, this is where the case for medical marijuana gets complicated.

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