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Public hearing set on effort to decriminalize marijuana in Portland

The City Council is ready to hear what Portland residents have to say about an effort to decriminalize marijuana in the city.
The council set a public hearing for a proposed ordinance that aims to decriminalize recreational marijuana use in Portland, after receiving a petition to put the question to a referendum. The hearing, which is set for July 15, will collect input on the proposed ordinance that would legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults who are 21 years of age or older. The Citizens for a Safer Portland Coalition attained 2,508 valid signatures through a petition drive to get the question on the ballot so Portland voters can decide on decriminalization.
The proposed ordinance must appear on the ballot as it was submitted by the coalition, according to a memo, but the council can create alternative language that can be picked as an alternative. The council may also vote to enact the ordinance following the public hearing.
The question will likely appear on the November ballot, though the council can opt to hold a special election.
The Portland referendum initiative, which launched in March, came on the heels of Maine Rep. Diane Russell's bill in the Maine Legislature that aimed to create a taxation and regulatory structure around the decriminalization of marijuana, and would have left it up to Maine voters to make the final decision on the legalization. Both the Maine House and Senate have since voted down the bill.
In other business:
• Mayor Michael Brennan recognized Portland citizens, emergency personnel and police officers and credited them for helping to save a man who was injured by a passing train on May 5.
On Sunday, May 5, Matthew Morris, 19, fell from a moving training in Riverton and was run over, according to the city, and had one of his legs severed. Residents in the area of Harris Avenue heard Morris' screams and called 911, and treated his injuries before emergency personnel arrived.
Brennan recognized residents Donato Tocci; Zachary Vickerson, Adrianna Williams and her son; Dominic Tocci; Dante Tocci; Nick Vickerson; Payson Harvey; Zackary Harvey; Jake Lowe; Mitchell Bailey; Ann Marie Bouchard; Sandra Bailey; dispatcher Hiram Del Rio; Sgt. Michael Rand; Lt. Kevin McGuire; firefighter Jeffrey Thompson; firefighter Jonathan Thompson; Capt. John Everett; firefighter Stephen Young; firefighter/ paramedic Michael Kimball; firefighter/ paramedic Sylvia Hull; firefighter/ paramedic Bruce Carleton; Capt. Michael Sargent; firefighter Kevin Henry; firefighter Timothy Harmon; and Deputy Fire Chief Robert Wassick.
"The reason we live in Portland is for exactly what you did," Brennan said. "When people need help, you help them."

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