Portland, Maine, Votes To Legalize Marijuana Possession

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The bill's passage will make Portland the first city on the East Coast to legalize marijuana.

Portland, Maine, voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to pass a city law that legalizes marijuana possession. 

"Yes" votes led "No" votes 67 percent to 32 percent with partial returns from all 12 precincts, reports the Portland Press Herald. The measure's passage will make Portland the first city on the East Coast to legalize marijuana. The ordinance allows possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use by adults age 21 or older. But it does not provide a legal way for residents to obtain the drug. 

Marijuana remains illegal under federal laws, and only medical marijuana is allowed under state laws. Portland's police chief said that officers will continue to follow state law no matter the vote's outcome. This means those possessing up to 2.5 ounces of the drug may be fined between $350 to $1,000 or face a civil summons. Criminal charges can also be brought for selling, packing or furnishing marijuana. 

According to the Press Herald, no organized opposition spoke out against the referendum in Portland. But many in treatment and prevention facilities for drug addiction said the measure would expand access to the drug and may give children the impression that the drug is safe. But supporters of the measure say they hope to build on the success of the Yes on 1 campaign and launch a statewide effort to legalize marijuana in the next two years. 

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