Pubdate: Thu, 07 Nov 2013
Source: Honolulu Star-Advertiser (HI)
Copyright: 2013 McClatchy Newspapers
Author: Rob Hotakainen, McClatchy Newspapers


WASHINGTON - Buoyed by their success at the polls Tuesday, marijuana 
backers say they will now try to get the drug fully legalized in 13 
more states by 2017.

They would join Colorado and Washington state, which voted last year 
to allow pot sales for recreational use.

The drive to legalize won considerable new momentum across the 
country on Election Day as voters in three states approved pro-pot measures.

Portland, Maine, became the first East Coast city to legalize 
marijuana. Colorado approved a 25 percent tax on pot. Voters in the 
Michigan cities of Lansing, Jackson and Ferndale decided to remove 
all penalties for possession.

Portland voters opted to allow residents to possess up to 2.5 ounces 
of marijuana. The campaign ignited controversy after proponents spent 
$2,500 to buy pro-pot billboards on city buses and in bus shelters.

"Most Portlanders, like most Americans, are fed up with our nation's 
failed marijuana laws," said David Boyer, Maine political director of 
the pro-legalization Marijuana Policy Project.

While the measure won easily in Maine's largest city, it may be more 
difficult for pro-pot forces to win across the state. Legalization 
backers hope to get the issue on the statewide ballot in 2016.

Officials with Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), an 
opposition group, said they planned to gear up for the vote.

"Maine is on the brink of creating a massive marijuana industry that 
will inevitably target teens and other vulnerable populations," Rep. 
Patrick Kennedy, D-R.I., the group's national chairman, said in a statement.

With a Gallup Poll released last month finding that 58 percent of 
Americans now back legalization, supporters are confident that more 
states will jump on the bandwagon.

Maine is among the 13 states targeted for full-scale legalization by 
the Marijuana Policy Project. The group said it would try to get 
legalization on the ballot in seven states and work to get state 
legislatures to pass it in the other six.

If a petition drive succeeds, Alaska voters are expected to consider 
legalization first, in 2014. In 2016, the group will try to get the 
issue on the ballot in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, 
Montana and Nevada.

They'll try to get state legislators to do the job in Delaware, 
Hawaii, Maryland, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont.

Tuesday's votes were the first ballot initiatives since last 
November, when Colorado and Washington state approved 
tax-and-regulate sales plans that will take effect next year.

In Colorado, voters gave the green light to a 25 percent pot tax that 
comprises a 15 percent excise tax to pay for school construction and 
a 10 percent tax to pay for enforcement.

Mason Tvert, communications director for the Marijuana Policy Project 
in Denver, said the measure would raise millions of dollars each year 
for schools, instead of having the money go to drug dealers.

To fight the efforts, Project SAM officials said they wanted to warn 
the public that legalization could create a "Big Marijuana" 
tobacco-style industry.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom