What’s the cost of a third legal drug? Apparently, it would be substantial — and painful.

Marijuana legalization is apparently sweeping all resistance before it, with two states, Washington and Colorado, leading the way (insert your own “Rocky Mountain High” joke here, I’m tired of them). Several other states seem poised to follow.

Portland approved an ordinance last year to stop penalizing consenting adults for possessing small amounts, and two more Maine communities (South Portland and Lewiston) will vote on similar measures next month.

Back in 1999, Maine voters approved the use of medical marijuana in a referendum, and authorized dispensaries under certain conditions in 2009. Twenty-two other states and the District of Columbia have similar laws.

But a lot is being said on both sides of the issue that’s worth hearing before the effort to add “a third legal recreational drug” to the nation’s pharmacopoeia kicks all objections to the curb.

The “About Marijuana” page of the NORML website (norml.org, for the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws) says, “Marijuana is the third most popular recreational drug in America (behind only alcohol and tobacco), and has been used by nearly 100 million Americans.”

It continues: “Our public policies should reflect this reality, not deny it. Marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Around 50,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning. Similarly, more than 400,000 deaths each year are attributed to tobacco smoking. By comparison, marijuana is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose.”

And according to the pro-pot Marijuana Policy Project (www.mpp.org), “These (Maine) campaigns will help build momentum for a change in marijuana policy statewide. We have been clear about our efforts to bring the question of taxing and regulating marijuana to voters statewide in 2016. Talking to folks around the state, it is clear that Mainers …read more