PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A bill in front of the legislature would make Maine the third state to legalize marijuana, but some people in Portland don't want to wait on action from Augusta to make the drug legal in city limits.
A petition asks for the Portland City Council to establish an ordinance that would allow people 21 and older to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana or less for recreational use.
The ordinance would prohibit marijuana use in public places.
Representatives from Portland's Green Party, the Marijuana Policy Project, and the ACLU of Maine held a press conference to announce support for the ordiance Thursday.
According to Tom MacMillan, Portland Green Party Chair, the petition has more than 200 signatures.
They need to collect 1,500 before May 30th to have the Portland City Council take up the issue. City Councilors could decide to adopt the ordinance or create a voter referendum.
Arguing that marijuana is safer than alcohol, David Boyer, the Political Director of the Marijuana Policy Project said he thinks the majority of Mainers will support legalization.
"You look at Colorado, you look at Washington, these weren't done through the Legislature," said Boyer. "Unfortunately, our political class is way behind the American people on this issue."
While members of the Portland Green Party, ACLU of Maine, and Marijuana Policy Project said they support a bill by Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, to legalize the sale and tax marijuana in Maine, they do not want to wait until the legislature takes up the issue.
Portland City Councilor David Marshall agreed.
"Quite frankly, we're not all that confident that the legislature is going to pass that bill," said Marshall.
If the bill is not passed, but the ordinance is, it could create a situation in which marijuana is legal in Portland, but not outside city limits.
"It would be a law enforcement's nightmare to deal with," said Chief Deputy Naldo Gagnon of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Department.
On top of enforceability issues, Chief Deputy Gagnon said he is worried about public safety.
"Here we want our kids to not abuse liquor but now we're going to be okay with adults [smoking] marijuana?" said Chief Deputy Gagnon. "What's that tell our children?"