Advocates of Legal Marijuana Hoping Maine Takes the Next Step

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Summary: Marijuana advocates feel that the next state that could legalize the drug is that of Maine

Advocates of Legal Marijuana Hoping Maine Takes the Next Step

Marijuana advocates feel that the next state that could legalize the drug is Maine, according to ABC News.

Medical marijuana was approved by voters in Maine 15 years ago, which made it the first state in New England to legalize the drug for medicinal purposes.

Marijuana advocates feel that Maine will be one of the easier states to legalize the drug in the Northeast because of its citizen-led public ballot initiative process. This makes it easier to pass laws in the state compared to those where battles must take place in state legislatures.

Almost 40 years ago, the state decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana. There are eight dispensaries in the state and some 1,500 legal marijuana growers.

"It's quite possible that Maine could be the first state in the Northeast to legalize marijuana and other states would follow," said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance.

Advocates for the popular drug won a handful of battles during the mid-term elections in October when Washington, D.C., Alaska and Oregon legalized the drug in one form or another.

Supporters of legal marijuana in Maine are already working on the ballot initiative for 2016. Petitioners will need 61,000 signatures in order to have the initiative placed on the ballot.

Other states that could see an initiative hit the ballots in 2016 include Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts, Arizona, California and Nevada.

Roy McKinney is the director of the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency. McKinney noted that the vote to legalize marijuana in South Portland does not get rid of state law. Voters approved a new law that allows people age 21 or older to possess marijuana that totals no more than one ounce.

The mayor of Lewiston, the second-largest city in Maine, said that the legalization of marijuana is a "degeneration of society."

Bob Macdonald also said, "I'm set in my ways and that's one thing I'm totally against -- making any drugs legal," he said.

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