SOUTH PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- This November, voters in South Portland will decide whether recreational marijuana should be legal for adults 21 years or older in the city.
City councilors voted unanimously to put the question on the November 4th ballot Monday night.
The group Citizens for a Safer Maine collected more than 1,500 signatures to get the measure before the council, when only 959 valid signatures were needed.
The council had three options.
The first was to enact the ordinance, which would make it legal for adults 21 years or older to privately possess up to one ounce of marijuana.
This was an unlikely option, because earlier in the summer, councilors unanimously stated their opposition to marijuana legalization in South Portland in a symbolic vote.
Their other two options were to put the ordinance on the upcoming November ballot, or to postpone a decision for up to a year.
Councilors said they did not see the advantage in delaying action.
"That's the democratic way of doing this," said Councilor Michael Pock. "Let the people decide."
While the only question in front of councilors was a procedural one - that did not stop speakers from debating the merits of marijuana legalization during public comment.
Law enforcement and substance abuse councilors warned that legalization would send the wrong message to South Portland's youth.
"There's nothing in this initiative that benefits the safety of our community," said Lt. Frank Clark.
But marijuana advocates said adults are already using - and this is the best way to address the issue.
"Marijuana is already going to be sold whether we like it or not," said David Boyer, Maine Political Director of the Marijuana Policy Project.
"It's being sold in South Portland, and it's being sold in Maine," said Boyer. "We can have marijuana be sold by licensed, regulated, tax paying business owners, or we can have marijuana sold by drug dealers."