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Advocates aim to explain safety of marijuana use

While most visitors to the Old Port last weekend thought more about beer, legalization advocates sought to turn their attention to marijuana.6-25-marijuana
Volunteers with the Citizens for a Safer Portland Coalition spent three days passing out cards that aimed to show people that marijuana is safer than alcohol. The leafletting coincided with The Festival, which was a two-day beer tasting event at the Portland Company and several bars and restaurants in the downtown.
David Boyer, the Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said the beer festival is a strong starting point for talking about legalizing marijuana. He said marijuana has been proven to be safer and less harmful than alcohol, and less likely to cause death, overdoses and violent behavior.
"It doesn't make sense that the safer substance is illegal," he said.
Boyer said it's illogical that adults can't choose to relax by recreationally using marijuana.
"Both can be enjoyed responsibly," Boyer said.
The proposed ordinance — which would legalize the recreational use of marijuana for adults who are 21 years of age or older — is a proposed ballot initiative in Portland targeted for a Nov. 5 vote.
The legalization effort gained the support of the Maine Green Independent Party, the Libertarian Party of Maine, the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine and the Marijuana Policy Project.
The city council set a public hearing for the 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.
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.

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