John Patriquin/Staff Photographer David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, speaks at Portland's Yes on 1 celebration at Brian Boru in Portland in 2013.

The Marijuana Policy Project says it will not appeal a judge’s decision supporting the town’s refusal to put the issue to a townwide vote.

The group hoping to legalize marijuana in Maine has given up its campaign to put the issue on the ballot in York, leaving South Portland and Lewiston as the only communities in the state facing votes on marijuana legalization this November.

The Marijuana Policy Project said Friday it will not appeal a Superior Court decision that allowed York to become the first community in the state to reject citizen petitions calling for a referendum on the legalization of recreational marijuana use.

Additional Images

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, speaks at Portland’s Yes on 1 celebration at Brian Boru in Portland in 2013.

York County Superior Court Justice Paul Fritzsche sided last month with York’s Board of Selectmen, which twice rejected citizen petitions calling on it to send a proposed marijuana legalization ordinance to voters in November. The judge ruled that legalization advocates, led by the Marijuana Policy Project, were asking the town to approve something it cannot regulate because marijuana use is governed by state and federal law, not local ordinances.

Unlike in some communities, York’s town charter has a clause allowing the Board of Selectmen to reject a petition that is “not lawful.”

The votes in South Portland and Lewiston, and the failed bid in York, are part of a strategy by legalization advocates to gauge public sentiment and build momentum for a potential statewide vote in 2016.

City councilors in the two cities accepted citizen petitions and were bound to either adopt the ordinance or put the question to voters. Both communities will vote Nov. 4.

The campaign to get the question on ballots in the three communities followed a November 2013 …read more