Half of Portland House delegates support pot legalization

A man smokes a joint in this Reuters photo by Nick Adams.

Four of Portland’s eight delegates to the state House of Representatives will announce their support for the Nov. 5 referendum to decriminalize possession of marijuana by adults in that city.

A “yes” vote on Question 1 in Portland would legalize the recreational use of marijuana by adults 21 years of age and older.

Democratic Reps. Matthew Moonen, Diane Russell and Peter Stuckey and Independent Rep. Ben Chipman will all endorse the effort during an event Friday at East End Cupcakes, according to the Marijuana Policy Project, the state chapter of which is leading the effort to legalize pot in Portland.

“We applaud the legislators for speaking out in support of this commonsense measure,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the MPP, in a press release. “Portland deserves a smarter marijuana policy, and that’s what Question 1 proposes. Law enforcement officials’ time and resources should be used to take on serious crimes, not adults possessing small amounts of marijuana.”

In the Legislature last year, Russell pushed to legalize recreational pot use statewide, but her bid was defeated at the committee level. Later in the session, she pushed for a statewide referendum on legalization. That effort was defeated in the House by just four votes

At that time, only one of eight Portland representatives opposed the statewide referendum on legalization: Rep. Mark Dion, who is a former sheriff of Cumberland County. You can see the roll call vote here.

A recent Gallup poll showed that for the first time, a majority of Americans — 58 percent — support legalization. An August poll conducted by Public Policy Polling showed 48 percent of Mainers supported legalization, though among Democrats support was as high as 58 percent. Just 25 percent of Republicans supported legalization.

Mario Moretto

About Mario Moretto

Mario Moretto has been a Maine journalist, in print and online publications, since 2009. He joined the Bangor Daily News in 2012, first as a general assignment reporter in his native Hancock County and, now, in the State House. Mario left the BDN in 2015.