Portland, Me., First City on East Coast to Legalize Pot; Impact Is Hazy


Portland, Maine became the first city on the East Coast to legalize marijuana as voters overwhelmingly passed an ordinance allowing adults to possess small amounts of the drug, reports the Portland Press-Herald. With all 12 precincts reporting, the proposal passed with 67 percent of the vote – 9,921 to 4,823. The ordinance allows people 21 and older to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana. It is seen by some as another step toward legalization across the nation. Supporters say they will build on Portland's vote with a statewide legalization effort in the next two years. The immediate and practical effects of yesterday's vote are hazy. Marijuana is still illegal under federal law, and is legal only for medical use under state law. Portland's ordinance does not set up any legal way to obtain marijuana. Police Chief Michael Sauschuck has said that, regardless of Tuesday's vote, officers will continue to enforce state law, which says possessing as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana can lead to a civil summons and fines of $350 to $1,000. Furnishing, selling or packaging the drug for sale can bring criminal charges.

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