LEWISTON — Organizers hoping to make recreational marijuana legal in Maine’s second-largest city will launch their citywide signature-gathering campaign Monday, the state political director for the Marijuana Policy Project said Friday.

David Boyer said his group will launch its petition effort with a news conference in Lewiston where it intends to collect signatures from voters casting ballots in primary and joint charter commission elections Tuesday.

The petition would seek to make possession of up to 1 ounce of marijuana legal for recreational use, for adults over the age of 21, under the city’s ordinances.

However, state and federal law would supersede any city ordinance, according to Lewiston officials and Mayor Robert Macdonald, who has said he’s an opponent to legalizing marijuana for recreational use.

Portland voters approved a similar ordinance in 2013, and voters in South Portland will vote on a legalization question this year.

The push to pass ordinances in the state’s larger cities is part of a bigger effort that could culminate in a statewide ballot initiative. Boyer and advocates for legalized marijuana have said they hope the state Legislature would make the decision ahead of a citizen vote, but if it fails to, the Marijuana Policy Project will push the measure forward in 2016.

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Lewiston City Clerk Kathy Montejo said the group had turned in its initial petition request with the signatures of 10 registered voters earlier in the week. Those 10 signatures will lead to the issuance of a petition that will require the signatures of 859 Lewiston voters to put the issue before voters in November. Under the city’s charter, organizers would have 60 calendar days to collect the signatures, Montejo said.

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Editor’s note: This story was updated June 9 at 10:28 a.m. to reflect a correction. The amount of marijuana the ordiance change would make legal is up to 1 ounce. The information was incorrectly reported.

 


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