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Portland, ME, Marijuana Initiative Dies… For Now

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #697)

A Portland, Maine, campaign that aimed to put an initiative making marijuana possession the lowest law enforcement priority on this year's November ballot is over, stymied by its failure to collect enough valid signatures. Although initiative sponsors Sensible Portland handed in well over the required number of signatures, there were not enough of them found valid by local election officials for the initiative to qualify.

Sensible Portland turned in 2,141 signatures last month. They only needed 1,500 valid ones to make the ballot, but with an invalidation rate of more than one out of three -- because the signers either didn't live in Portland or weren't registered to vote -- they came up 93 votes short, with 1,407 valid signatures. [Ed: It is common for about one in three signatures on a ballot petition to come up invalid.]

The group and supporters asked the city council to allow them an extra 10 days to collect the necessary signatures. But that effort was turned aside Monday night when the council voted unanimously to postpone any decision on the group's request until October, making it impossible to get the measure on the ballot this year.

The campaign is down, but not out. Sensible Portland has vowed to continue signature-gathering with an eye toward qualifying for a later ballot.

Maine has already decriminalized the possession of up to 2 ½ ounces of pot, but the fines are significant, ranging from $350 to $600 for a first offense. The fine is $550 if you get busted a second time within six months.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


D. H. (not verified)

I am appalled at the incompetence of those involved and entrusted by the citizens of Portland, and all of Maine.

First, when you fight a war, you bring in your big guns, and hit the opponent with all you've got. This strategy was not followed in the least by the  Sensible Portland people. When you are given until August 15, to collect registered signatures, you  deliver those signatures on August 14th, not as prematurely as was the case here, and you absolutely don't stop at 2141 when Portland has a population of around 80,000.

I myself have waited far too long for this very important vote to have incompetence be the reason for failure.

Did it not dawn on Sensible Portland, that they had plenty of time to collect an over-whelming amount of support, and show those responsible for the draconian laws in this city, state, country, that they can no longer fine and punish their fellow citizens for doing something that the majority prefers to either do themselves, or sees no harm in.

I am very new to this city, and one of the reasons why I have relocated to Portland is that it seems like a very open- minded city, which appears to respect the rights of its citizenry, which from my experience is not always the case elsewhere. After this setback, I certainly have not changed my mind about this exciting, beautiful city, mainly because, I have faith in Portlander's to see this injustice and to rectify this mistake.




Wed, 08/17/2011 - 3:31pm Permalink

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