City of Lewiston Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)
|Voting on Marijuana|
|Not on ballot|
If approved, this measure would have made it legal according to city law for an adult to possess and use up to 2.5 ounces of recreational marijuana. The measure was sponsored and put on the ballot through initiative petition by the group Marijuana Policy Project. David Boyer, Maine’s political director for the national Marijuana Policy Project, announced on January 21, 2014, that the organization would attempt to put similar ballot measures on the ballots of three municipalities in Maine: Lewiston, South Portland and York. The measure never made it to the ballot in York, but was approved in South Portland and defeated in Lewiston.
When asked why the Marijuana Policy Project chose the three communities announced, Boyer said that it was because South Portland neighbors Portland, in which a similar measure was approved in 2013, that Lewiston was viewed as a battleground for the governor's race and that York was close to potential future initiatives in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. Officials in Lewiston stated that they were surprised at the announced initiative effort and that Lewiston was chosen as a location for Marijuana Public Policy.
|Lewiston Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure|
Election results via: Bangor Daily News
Text of measure
The official title of the initiative:
Proposed Ordinance Regarding the Use of Marijuana by Persons 21 Years of Age or Older
The question on the ballot:
Shall the Ordinance entitled, Use of Marijuana by Persons 21 Years of Age or Older, be adopted?
David Boyer said that the Marijuana Policy Project planned to use questions similar to the successful 2013 Portland measure on its three announced local projects in Maine for 2014, which were Lewiston, South Portland and York.
The Portland question, Measure 1, had the following summary:
This ordinance legalizes the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 years of age or older. It allows adults 21 years of age or older to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and paraphernalia. It also allows adults 21 years of age or older to engage in activities for the purpose of ascertaining the possession of marijuana and paraphernalia. It prohibits recreational use activities in public spaces, school grounds, and on transportation infrastructure. It prohibits adults under 21 and minors from engaging in recreational use activities. Landlords and property owners may restrict the smoking of marijuana on their property by posting "No Smoking" signs near the entrances. It requires the Mayor to report annually on the implementation enforcement of the ordinance; allows city officers and employees to cooperate with federal drug enforcement authorities as required by law; and makes the City's disciplinary procedures for officers and employees the exclusive remedy for a violation of the ordinance. Finally it resolves to support taxation and regulation of marijuana by the State of Maine and Federal government.
David Boyer, the political director for the Maine branch of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) said, “Our opponents will claim this measure has no teeth, but that’s because they’ll say just about anything to maintain the status quo. Police have discretion and can refrain from arresting adults for marijuana possession. We expect them to follow the will of the voters and do just that if this law is approved in November.”
Path to the ballot
On September 2, 2014, the Lewiston City Council put the initiative, which sought to let Lewiston residents use marijuana in private, on the ballot. They were left little choice by a successful initiative petition drive led by Citizens for a Safer Maine, who turned in 1,250 signatures supporting the initiative. They needed just 859 of them to be valid and passed that threshold with flying colors. This gave the city council the option of adopting the initiative directly or sending it to the voters. Leery of contradicting state and federal law or worried the measure would be simply ineffectual and be left unenforced, the city council members unanimously decided to pass the decision on to the voters.
The full text of the initiative that would have been enacted by the approval of this measure was as follows:
Section. 1. Preamble.
WHEREAS, a 1995 study commissioned by the World Health Organization concluded marijuana poses a much less serious public health problem than is currently posed by alcohol;
WHEREAS, an assessment published in 2009 in British Columbia's Mental Health and Addictions Journal found health-related costs for alcohol consumers are more than eight times greater than those for marijuana consumers;
WHEREAS, according to the National Institutes of Health, more than 300 Americans die annually as the result of alcohol overdoses, and there has never been a confirmed marijuana overdose death recorded in the medical literature, as noted by the British Medical Journal in September 2003;
WHEREAS, studies conducted in 1999 by the National Academy of Sciences Institute of Medicine and 1994 by the National Institute on Drug Abuse concluded marijuana is less addictive than alcohol;
WHEREAS, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention attributes more than 30,000 American deaths per year to the health effects of alcohol and zero deaths directly to the health effects of marijuana;
WHEREAS, extensive research documented in official reports by the British government's Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs and the Canadian Senate Special Committee ·on Illegal Drugs, among others, shows. that - unlike alcohol use -marijuana use is not generally a cause of violence or aggressive behavior, and, in fact, tends to reduce violence and aggression;
WHEREAS, police officers' and prosecutors' time and resources would be better spent addressing violent crimes and property crimes instead of citing and prosecuting adults 21 years of age and older for possession of small amounts of marijuana;
WHEREAS, marijuana laws are disproportionately enforced against communities of color, and, according to a 2013 report produced by the American Civil· Liberties Union; African Americans in Maine are more than two times more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than white citizens are, despite similar rates of consumption;
WHEREAS, in an interview published in The New Yorker in January 2014, President Barack Obama acknowledged that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol in terms of its impact on the consumer;
WHEREAS, police officers and prosecutors have the discretion· to refrain from issuing citations to and filing charges against adults 21 years of age and older for possession of small amounts of marijuana; and
Therefore, in the interest of the public health and public safety, and in order to better focus law enforcement resources on crimes involving violence and personal property, the People of Lewiston find and declare that the use of marijuana should be legal for persons 21 years of age or older.
Sec. 2, Notwithstanding any other ordinance, it shall not be unlawful in Lewiston, and must not be used as the basis for prosecution or penalty by Lewiston for·persons 21 years of age or older, to possess or use marijuana paraphernalia or one ounce er'less of marijuana, except that it is not lawful for a person to:
(a) use or display marijuana er marijuana paraphernalia in a public place; or
(b) operate, navigate, or be in actual physical control of any motor vehicle, aircraft, or motorboat while under the influence elf marijuana.
Sec. 3. The City of Lewiston, through adoption of this ordinance, resolves to support a change in state law to tax and regulate the sale of marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol.
City of Lewiston Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)
City of South Portland Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)
Town of York Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)
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- Lewiston-Auburn Sun Journal, "Group eyes Lewiston for next stop in pot legalization," January 21, 2014
- BDN Maine Politics, "Marijuana Policy Project looks to legalize pot in South Portland, York, Lewiston," January 21, 2014
- Lewiston City Government website, "General election referendum sample ballot," October 22, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- Portland City, Maine, November 5, 2013 sample ballot," accessed January 23, 2014 (dead link)
- Hemp.org, "Maine: Lewiston City Council Places Marijuana Legalization Measure On Ballot," September 3, 2014
- The Weed Blog, "Another City In Maine Puts Marijuana Legalization On The Ballot," September 5, 2014