City of South Portland Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)

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A City of South Portland Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure ballot question was on the November 4, 2014 election ballot for voters in the city of South Portland in Cumberland County, Maine. It was approved.

This measure made it legal, according to city law, for an adult to possess and use up to 2.5 ounces of recreation marijuana. The measure was sponsored and put on the ballot 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.[1][2]

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 initiatives in the future in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. South Portland police Chief Edward Googins said that ever since the ballot measure in Portland in 2013, he had been expecting a similar effort in his city.[1]

Election results

South Portland Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure
Approveda Yes 6,332 52.38%

Election results via: South Portland City Elections Office

Text of measure

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:[3]

Are you in favor of a citizen-initiated proposed ordinance entitled “Use of Marijuana by Persons 21 Years of Age or Older Ordinance”?[4]


The initiative summary:[3]

This citizen-initiated proposed ordinance would allow persons 21 years of age or older to possess or use one ounce or less of marijuana and to possess or use marijuana paraphernalia. It would also impose some limitations on such possession and use of marijuana/marijuana paraphernalia. The full text of the proposed ordinance is available in the City Clerk’s Office, on the City’s website ( and at the polls.[4]



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.[5][4]



  • Marijuana Policy Project

Arguments in favor

David Boyer, political director of the Maine chapter of the Marijuana Policy Project, said, “Most people agree law enforcement officials have more important things to do than punish adults for using a substance that is less harmful than alcohol. If this measure passes, police can use their discretion to stop arresting adults for simple marijuana possession.” He continued, “It’s time to move beyond the status quo of prohibition and start making progress."[6]

He encouraged the city council to directly approved the initiative ordinance, saying, “This is an opportunity for council members to demonstrate leadership on [marijuana].”[6]

Path to the ballot

See also: Laws governing local ballot measures in Maine

On July 23, 2014, South Portland city officials announced that enough of the 1,500 signatures submitted by local marijuana supporters and Marijuana Policy Project were valid to qualify the legalization measure for the November ballot. Election law gave the city council until August 4 to enact the initiative ordinance without a vote of the people. Otherwise the measure would be decided by the voters.[6]

Boyer said, “Voters were very receptive during the signature drive.”[6]

Full text

The full text of the initiative that was enacted by the approval of this measure was as follows:[7]

Sec. 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 South Portland 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 South Portland, and must not be used as the basis for prosecution or penalty by South Portland for persons 21 years of age or older, to possess or use marijuana paraphernalia or one ounce or less of marijuana, except that it is not lawful for a person to:

(a) use or display marijuana or 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 of marijuana.

Sec. 3. The City of South Portland, 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.[4]

Similar measures


Approveda Washington D.C. Marijuana Legalization, Initiative 71 (November 2014)



Approveda City of Lewiston Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)
Approveda City of South Portland Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot Town of York Recreational Marijuana Legalization Measure (November 2014)



New Mexico:

Approveda Santa Fe County Marijuana Decriminalization Advisory Question (November 2014)
Approveda Bernalillo County Marijuana Decriminalization Advisory Question, Measure 1 (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Albuquerque Marijuana Decriminalization Measure (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Santa Fe Marijuana Decriminalization Initiative (November 2014)


Approveda Dane County State Legalization of Marijuana Referendum (April 2014)



Approveda City of Santa Ana Council-Referred Medical Marijuana Regulation Ordinance, Measure BB (November 2014)
Defeatedd City of Santa Ana Medical Cannabis Restriction and Limitation Initiative, Measure CC (November 2014)
Defeatedd City of La Mesa Medical Marijuana Initiative, Proposition J (November 2014)
Defeatedd City of Encinitas Medical Marijuana Initiative, Proposition F (November 2014)
Defeatedd Nevada County Medical Marijuana Cultivation, Measure S (November 2014)
Approveda Butte County Medical Marijuana Ordinance 4075 Referendum, Measure A (November 2014)
Defeatedd Butte County Medical Marijuana Initiative, Measure B (November 2014)
Approveda Shasta County Outdoor Medical Marijuana Ordinance Referendum, Measure A (November 2014)
Defeatedd Lake County "Medical Marijuana Control Act" Initiative, Measure O (November 2014)
Defeatedd Lake County "Freedom to Garden Human Rights Restoration Act" Initiative, Measure P (November 2014)
Defeatedd City of Weed Permitting Licensing of Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Advisory Question, Measure L (November 2014)
Approveda City of Weed Outdoor Marijuana Cultivation Ban Advisory Question, Measure K (November 2014)
Approveda Lake County Marijuana Cultivation Ordinance 2997 Referendum, Measure N (June 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Imperial Beach "Compassionate Access Ordinance" Medical Marijuana Dispensaries Act (June 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of Napa Medical Marijuana Dispensary Referendum (November 2014)
Proposed ballot measures that were not on a ballot City of San Jose Medical Marijuana Regulation Act of 2014 (November 2014)

See also

External links

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