Democrats add recreational marijuana legalization to party platform

Delegates at the Democratic State Convention on Saturday voted overwhelmingly to add recreational marijuana legalization to the party platform.

At least 75 percent of the delegates voted in favor of supporting legalization for people 21 years of age or older. The vote means that the party’s platform, a lengthy and wide-ranging document meant to guide Democratic elected officials and define what the party stands for, now includes the following language: “Supports the legalization of marijuana for adults 21 years and older while protecting minors from its use.”

Stricken from the platform was “Supports a sensible, Maine-based solution to marijuana in view of the failure of the current prohibition.”

Though support for the changes was strong, not everyone agreed.

“This is a fight that we don’t really need at this point,” said Dick Springer, a delegate from Cumberland County. “I think we have other priorities. This is somewhat off our focus and I think including it in the specific form that’s proposed doesn’t help our cause in the election.”

Recreational marijuana legalization has been under discussion in the Legislature and elsewhere in recent years. Attempts to put a legalization question to statewide referendum have failed, though the Maine Marijuana Policy Project is collecting signatures to do just that in 2016. Last November, 67 percent of Portland voters legalized possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. 

Among other changes made to the platform Saturday was opposition to measures that put small businesses at disadvantages against large businesses; support for labeling of foods that contain genetically modified organisms; support for reducing the number of homeless veterans; support for expanding the time period during which veterans can enroll in VA healthcare programs; and support for exempting state and local pension incomes from the state income tax.

An amendment that would have barred paid lobbyists from leading state agencies failed.

Christopher Cousins

About Christopher Cousins

Christopher Cousins has worked as a journalist in Maine for 15 years and covered state government for numerous media organizations before joining the Bangor Daily News in 2009.