PORTLAND (AP) — Residents of Maine’s largest city are being asked if they want to legalize possession of recreational amounts of marijuana.

Tuesday’s vote comes a year after Washington and Colorado voters passed statewide ballot questions legalizing possession of up to an ounce of pot by people 21 and older. Advocates of legalizing pot possession say the Portland vote is an indicator of the level of support in the Northeast following the votes in the West.

Portland’s citizen initiative, which was put on the ballot after supporters turned in more than 2,500 valid signatures, would allow people 21 and older to possess as much as 2½ ounces of marijuana. It would be illegal to buy or sell pot, or use it in public places.

Supporters say marijuana is less harmful than alcohol and that a majority of Americans now support legalizing the recreational use of pot.

There was no organized opposition to the referendum, but critics say using marijuana carries many health risks and that legalizing it sends a bad message to young people.

If the measure passes, it will be largely symbolic because it won’t override state and federal laws. Possessing 2½ ounces or less of marijuana is already a civil offense under state law, where violators are issued a ticket and fined.

The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project says Maine is one of 10 states it has identified where it intends to support legalization efforts in the next few years.


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