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Friday, March 22, 2013

Marijuana legalization backers build coalition

Portland Daily Sun

Marijuana legalization backers build coalition

Tony Rose of Portland remembers collecting signatures for the 2009 citizen initiative that legalized medical marijuana in Maine.
Today, without the resources to buy marijuana for medical use, Rose said he hopes to see Portland pass an initiative to legalize recreational use of marijuana outright.
"I believe marijuana is a God-given thing, it is not a chemical, it is not truly harmful unless you way overuse it," Rose said Wednesday while collecting signatures along Congress Street.
He said he suffers from epilepsy, diabetes, back problems and "all these other problems that nothing else can touch."
Rose said he decided to work on this year's legalization of marijuana petition after learning that the medical marijuana license would cost him $300.
"I used to use it recreationally, but today I need it for the pain, I need it medicinally, but I can't afford the $300. ... Then I have to pay for the marijuana beyond that, so it's really not possible. You have to go out in the streets and buy it," he said.
Rose added that, because he's bound to a wheelchair, he isn't in a position to find marijuana on the street.
"I'd rather see it legalized," he said.
Rose isn't alone.
Earlier this month, the Portland Green Independent Committee drafted an ordinance and filed a petition affidavit with the City Clerk to remove the criminal penalties for possession and use of  marijuana and paraphernalia for adults 21 or older. Portland Green Independents have begun to collect the necessary number of petition signatures to get the question of recreational marijuana use for adults 21 and older on the city's November ballot.
Thursday at 10 a.m. at Portland City Hall, proponents of the petition drive will gather for a press conference updating media about the signature-gathering effort. The ACLU of Maine is scheduled to join advocates at the press conference, something that supporters said is a shot in the arm for the movement.
"They definitely have a lot of sway in Augusta, they're well respected on both sides of the aisle.
We're glad to have their support with this initiative," said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project.
Tom MacMillan, chair of the Portland Green Independent Committee, said, "I think it's a very big deal, we're building a coalition of groups."
Thursday marks the 10th day of the petition effort, and 10 weeks remaining of signature gathering — deadline is May 30, MacMillan said.
"We already have several hundred signatures and have passed out 50 or so petitions to 15 or 20 petitioners with more waiting to pick up their petitions," he said.
According to a press advisory, the ACLU of Maine's support for legalization "is grounded in concerns about the human costs of the failed War on Drugs, a war that has cost roughly a trillion dollars, has produced little to no effect on the supply of or demand for drugs in the United States, and has contributed to making America the world's largest incarcerator."
"I think the voters in Portland will agree that it's time to legalize marijuana," Boyer said.
Speakers at the press conference are scheduled to include Boyer; MacMillan; Portland City Councilor David Marshall; and Zachary Heiden, legal director of the ACLU of Maine.

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