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Monday, April 20, 2015

Portland Greens Condemn State Interference in Local Wage Laws

Portland Greens Condemn State Interference in Local Wage Laws
Governor’s bill seeks to ban municipalities from regulating wages

PORTLAND- The Portland Green Independent Committee condemns a bill submitted on behalf of Governor Paul LePage which seeks to allow state government to interfere with municipal wage laws in the wake of the growing national movement in Portland and elsewhere to reset the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

L.D. 1361, submitted by Senator Andre Cushing on behalf of Governor Paul LePage, seeks to ban municipalities from regulating minimum wage laws within their jurisdictions.

“This is unwanted state intrusion into the affairs of municipalities” said Tom MacMillan, chair of the Portland Greens. “We are petitioning for a Living Wage, something the state won’t even consider. Working people should not live in poverty, yet Governor LePage is trying to block Portland voters from exercising their democratic rights under the Maine Constitution”.

The Portland Greens view this bill as a pointless and backwards regulation which undermines Maine’s home-rule system. Home-rule is the principal whereby towns in Maine can enact any law that doesn’t contradict a State law. It allows Maine communities to take control on issues such as an insufficient federal or state minimum wage by passing their own regulations without waiting for action from a gridlocked legislature.

The Maine Green Independent Party supports the decentralization of power as one of its 10 key values. This bill calls for the centralization of power into the hands of big government. The Greens call on voters of all stripes to reject this unwanted intrusion and assert their right to decide for themselves, on the local level, what is and is not best for their communities.

Greens Lead for $15

Excitement continues to grow in Portland, across Maine and around the world for a significant raise in the minimum wage. The Portland Greens are leading on a citizen's initiative which will go before voters in November 2015. The initiative, entitled "An Ordinance Toward a Living Wage", will guarantee that all non-municipal employees in the City of Portland will receive at least $15 per hour by 2019. Small businesses, defined as those with fewer than 500 employees, will gradually increase their wage while big businesses and franchises will have only until 2017 to get to $15 per hour for every employee.

Below are pictures of Portland residents showing their support the $15 Living Wage Ordinance!

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Marijuana legalization bill gains sponsors

Portland Daily Sun

Marijuana legalization bill gains sponsors

Proponents of marijuana legalization say they have "traction" in Maine, as a Portland legislator's bill to allow recreational use of marijuana awaits a hearing in committee.
Pressure is coming to bear, although not everyone favors the state legislation.
"Portland's efforts are going to push it to the state level," said Charles Wynott, a marijuana-legalization advocate, referring to a Portland Green Party initiative to legalize marijuana in the city.
Wynott, the founder and executive director for one of Maine's oldest AIDS service organizations, the nonprofit Piefer Patients Alliance, said it's only a matter of time.
"We're in a good predicament right now, we're in a good space," he said. "If it doesn't pass this year, we've done one more step toward it. Every year we move one step closer."
Thirty-five state lawmakers are listed as co-sponsors of LD 1229, an"Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana," sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland.  The final co-sponsor list includes Democrats, Republicans, an independent and the state representatives of the Penobscot Nation and the Houlton Band of Maliseets, Russell announced in a press release. The bill was referred Tuesday to the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.
The bill would decriminalize the possession and use of marijuana for adults over the age of 21, according to the bill summary, and limit personal use to 2.5 ounces and six plants. The proposed law would still prohibit smoking marijuana in public places.
Maine residents will still have the final say on whether to allow the decriminalization of marijuana through a citizen referendum. If state lawmakers approve the bill this session, it will be referred to voters in November, Russell noted.
"We all recognize this issue is coming to Maine," said Russell in a press release. "It is clear from the strong number of co-sponsors that the Legislature is ready to take this issue seriously and to set up a robust infrastructure to properly regulate and tax marijuana — before the genie gets out of the bottle. The people of Maine would then be able to decide for themselves at the ballot box whether they want to legalize marijuana."
In 2009, only 39 members of the Maine House voted in support for similar legislation, and the Senate did not vote, Russell noted.
At 1 p.m. on Thursday, the Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Committee will hear LD 525, "An Act to Promote Industrial Hemp," sponsored by Rep. Lance Harvell, R-Farmington, and co-sponsored by Russell and several other legislators.
Harvell said his bill does not touch on marijuana legalization, but he acknowledged a new crop of legislators, many of whom with a libertarian bent, seem more amenable to legalization.
"My bill is just dealing with industrial hemp," Harvell said. "My opinion on marijuana as well is I tend to favor legalization, when it comes to marijuana there's no way you can win the war (on drugs) the way we're fighting it."
Pointing to "more libertarian thinking in Augusta," Harvell said marijuana legalization is attractive to more people "who are beginning to have real concerns about how this is going. ... With me, it's a libertarian pragmatism."
As for promotion of industrial hemp, Harvell said he was approached to sponsor the legislation, which seeks to offer hemp as an alternative fiber source.
The legislative summary states: "This bill removes the requirements that an applicant for an initial license to grow industrial hemp for commercial purposes must submit a set of the applicant's fingerprints and file with the Commissioner of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry documentation indicating that the seeds planted were a type and variety of hemp approved by the commissioner and also repeals the provision that licensure is contingent upon action by the Federal Government."
Harvell said, "I think with industrial hemp, you're seeing some movement here and across the country."
As a fiber source, Harvell said hemp has been unfairly stigmatized.
"Its usages are actually quite large," he said. "It got caught up, it's a cousin crop to marijuana, so when we went to war with one we went to war with the other."
U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., is among those promoting hemp. He released a statement Wednesday applauding passage of a Kentucky bill that regulates industrial hemp, and promised to continue to push for a federal waiver from laws restricting its use.
"Kentucky was one of the largest exporters of industrial hemp prior to WW2. It can be a great cash crop once again," he said.
Maine Congresswoman Chellie Pingree, D-District 1, has joined the effort to end marijuana prohibition and start regulating marijuana like alcohol at the federal level, signing on to co-sponsor H.R. 499, the "Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2013."
David Boyer, political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said all of these developments point to momentum on the side of legalization proponents, but also cautioned that Russell's bill isn't a sure thing.
"It could go either way," he acknowledged.
Chair of the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Sen. Stan Gerzofsky, D-Brunswick, is a co-sponsor, which may help the bill's chances, he said.
"At all levels, we have traction," Boyer said.
Wynott, however, acknowledged dissent among some in the medical marijuana field.
One of those critics is Paul McCarrier, legislative liaison for Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, the state's trade association representing caregivers and patients. He said Russell's bill would hurt Mainers.

"We're concerned because this bill does not protect the individual to be able to cultivate on their own and so it will force them to buy their plants and seeds from out-of-state corporate interests. This bill is so skewed toward the out-of-state dispensary model," he said.
"What we need is a bill by Mainers for Mainers, and this is not it," McCarrier said.
In the next two weeks, McCarrier said he expects a legislative hearing on Russell's bill,
While focused on the medical marijuana model, McCarrier said he will stay busy informing legislators on the "deathly flaws in this bill."
Wynott said it's unclear how Russell's bill will fare, but said, "We're going to push hard on it."
Successful legalization votes in the West prove marijuana legalization is growing more mainstream, he said.
"Since Washington and Oregon started their campaigns, now that they passed it, the world isn't coming to an end," Wynott said.
"Once Portland does it, being the largest city in the state, the state will have to look at it," he said.
"I think every year we need to present it just to see how it goes. One year it's going to happen," Wynott said.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Greens, ACLU push to legalize marijuana in Portland


Greens, ACLU push to legalize marijuana in Portland

Photo: Grace Mallett / For The Forecaster
Zachary Heiden of the Maine ACLU, left, Tom MacMillan of the Portland Green Independent Committee, and David Boyer, right, of the Maine Marijuana Policy Center, look on while City Councilor David Marshall explains a citizens initiative that would legalize recreational use of marijuana for Portland adults at a March 21 Portland City Hall press conference.

Photo: Grace Mallett / For The Forecaster
At a press conference March 21 in Portland, speakers argued marijuana should be legalized because its effects are significantly less harmful than alcohol.

PORTLAND — Several hundred people have signed a petition to legalize recreational use of marijuana for city residents over the age of 21, according to petition sponsors.
The Portland Chapter of the Maine Green Independent Committee began circulating the petition for a citizen's initiative last week; 1,500 signatures are required to put the question on the November ballot.
“We expect to turn in about 3,000 (signatures) and have already collected several hundred in just the first few days,” Tom MacMillan, chairman of the Portland Greens, said at a City Hall press conference March 21. “Thus far, Portland residents have excitedly rushed to sign petitions despite cold, snowy weather, and we think this is a sign of what is to come.”
MacMillan said the committee supports marijuana legalization for adults over the age of 21 because current policies have negative impacts on those who use marijuana and on city and state government.
“Our city and state are wasting money going after marijuana users while real problems are happening,” MacMillan said. “This policy will remove penalties for responsible adults because it has been proven again and again to be safer than alcohol.”
City Councilor David Marshall agreed, quoting President Jimmy Carter's statement that penalties for possession of a drug shouldn't be more damaging than the drug itself.
“Marijuana laws nationally have put people in positions where they are being called criminals,” Marshall said. “We feel that marijuana should be treated the same way as alcohol because marijuana is safer than alcohol. We should remove criminal penalties and stop criminalizing people for possessing a small amount of marijuana or paraphernalia or recreating in their own private spaces.”
Marshall said decriminalizing marijuana should reduce usage, as it has done in countries such as Denmark and states like California.
Zachary Heiden, legal director for the ACLU, said the organization's support for marijuana legalization is grounded in the concern over the “failed war on drugs.” He said the battle over drug use in the United States has lasted 42 years, spent trillions of taxpayer dollars and had little to no effect on the supply or demand for drugs.
“Jailing individuals who use marijuana recreationally makes no sense from a civil liberties perspective, from a civil rights perspective or from a fiscal perspective,” Heiden said.
Heiden also said that although marijuana use is still illegal at the state and federal level, enforcement of a new law in Portland could be left up to the Portland Police Department.
“For the most part, the federal government has allowed the states to explore different ways of enforcing drug enforcement and have not come in to clamp down on either medical marijuana or the decriminalization of small amounts of marijuana for personal use," he said. "We hope that trend will continue (in Portland).”

Amber Cronin can be reached at or 781-3661 ext. 125. Follow her on Twitter@croninamber.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Petition seeks to legalize pot in Portland, Maine

Petition seeks to legalize pot in Portland, Maine

Click on the link to watch the video.

March 21, 2013, 10:28 pm

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) - A petition drive has been launched in Maine's largest city calling for an ordinance to legalize possession of up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana for people 21 and older.
The Portland Green Party said Thursday that it has filed a petition and will be coordinating a signature drive for the initiative. The effort is supported by the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine and the Marijuana Policy Project.
If supporters collect 1,500 valid signatures, residents could vote on the proposal in November's election.
On the state level, Rep. Diane Russell of Portland is planning to introduce a bill to legalize, regulate and tax marijuana statewide.

(Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Friday, March 22, 2013

Push To Legalize Marijuana In Portland Continues


Push To Legalize Marijuana In Portland Continues
PORTLAND (WGME) -- The push to legalize recreational marijuana in Portland is on. Right now volunteers are going door to door trying to get enough signatures to get measure on the November ballot. 

A similar move failed two years ago, but this time around supporters say they've got the support they need. A poll from Quinnipiac University backs that up. More than half of all Americans polled say they support the idea of legalization. In fact, two states have already legalized small amounts of pot: Coloarado and Washington state.

Legalizing marijuana is a topic of debate that's lighting up here in the city of Portland. The Portland green independent committee spear headed the move to put the issue to voters in the November election. To do that, they need at least 1,500 signatures on a petition.

City councilor David Marshall is one of those collecting signatures on the petition. Supporters of the proposal say it’s similar to ones that were already passed in states like Washington and Colorado.

We went to Portland's Police Department to talk to the chief, he did not get back to us.

Right now marijuana is legal for medicinal purposes and illegal otherwise. Supporters say decriminalizing marijuana will free up law enforcement resources, allowing them to focus on more dangerous crimes and criminals.

The Fight To Legalize Marijuana In Portland Continues


Click the link to watch the video.

The Fight To Legalize Marijuana In Portland Continues
PORTLAND (WGME) -- Thursday, pro-pot groups met at city hall to officially announce a citywide petition to legalize the drug, and to tout the positives of it.

This is an uphill battle for proponents of legalizing marijuana, but a battle they certainly think they can win. Thursday, several pro-pot groups made their argument as to why it should be legal, but the idea is drawing mixed reaction from those around the city.

Tom Macmillan of Portland Green Independent Committee says, "Marijuana legalization is an idea who's time has come."

The push for legalizing pot in Portland is moving forward. "Our city and state are wasting money going after marijuana users while real problems are ignored," says Macmillan.

The Portland Green Independent Committee, backed by the support of the ACLU and a city councilman, continued with efforts to make the possession of 2.5 ounces of the  drug legal in city limits.

On Thursday at city hall, they promoted a petition that will be circulating around the city.

David Marshall of Portland city council says "What this ordinance will basically do is take the state's decriminalization law one step further. Instead of it being a penalty for someone for possession a small amount of marijuana and getting a fine and getting charged with a crime, it would no longer be a crime."

The groups say right now they have several hundred signatures for a petition they filed earlier this month, they need 1,500 in order to push the idea forward.

At their news conference Thursday, they also touted the positives of pot...comparing it to alcohol as "not addictive" and pushing that it would only be legal for people 21 and older, and not in public places. "This ordinance will remove penalties for responsible adults using marijuana because it has been proven again and again to be safer than alcohol,” says Macmillan.

The idea, however, is drawing mixed reaction around the city. "I think any mood altering substance is not okay. I have to go back to some of the other theorists who say mood altering is, we don't have to mood alter," says Evie Hall of Portland.

Kathleen Parr of Falmouth says "I think the war on drugs is a waste of money. We regulate alcohol, there's no reason why we can't regulate and tax marijuana."

The groups have until May 30th to collect all of their signatures. They expect to meet their deadline. There's a similar bill in the legislature right now, that would regulate marijuana.

This week, congresswoman Chellie Pingrie announced she'll help back that bill.