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Activists submit petition to legalize marijuana in York

YORK (WGME) -- The town of York could be the next place to decide on legalizing marijuana.
   
A group of supporters submitted a petition Thursday morning with 200 signatures. It's more than enough to be considered for a ballot.

The effort comes seven months after voters legalized pot in Portland, and is backed by the Marijuana Policy Project.

"The ordinance is really simple," said David Boyer, the policy's director in Maine. "It would make small amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 and over and that would be up to one ounce."

It's less than the 2.5 ounces approved in Portland, but closer to what will likely appear on a 2016 statewide initiative.

"Given that it is safer than alcohol, we don't think adults should be punished for using marijuana," said Boyer.

York Police Chief Douglas Bracy is speaking out against the idea.

"I have a lot of concerns," said Bracy. "I think I stand with most of the chiefs in the state."

Bracy said not only does it conflict with state and federal law, but he's seeing higher addiction rates, and more "drugged" driving.

"At least with beer, we know the two beer rule or whatever you want to use. 'No more than four in an evening,'" said Bracy. "Where's that level with marijuana?"

Some voters told CBS 13 they already have their mind made up.

"I never partook, but I dont see a responsible use of that being a problem," said Greg Helsmoortel.

"I think it's wrong," said Jana Medina. "I think it's just going to cause more teens and people to abuse the situation and be able to have it on-hand whenever they want."

The issue now goes to the board of selectmen, who can choose to hold a public hearing and put the ordinance on the ballot, or do nothing.

If selectmen don't act on the petition, supporters will have 30 days to college signatures from 10 percent of those who voted in the last gubernatorial election, in order to force a general referendum.

The Marijuana Policy Project is also pushing for ordinances in Lewiston and South Portland.