PORTLAND, Maine — The mayor of Portland said he’s disappointed by a free pot giveaway in Monument Square that drew a long line of people and a cloud of smoke.
Under state law and city ordinance, marijuana can’t be used in public, but the crowd enjoyed it anyway, uninterrupted.
“Well, we didn’t have a lot of complaints, but I don’t think we want our police department wasting a lot of resources on this,” Mayor Ethan Strimling said. “The war on drugs has never been successful.”
Strimling said he was disappointed by the event and believes it was irresponsible.
“If someone was out there handing out free shots of alcohol, I think people would have a similar reaction, saying this isn’t what we want to have happening in the middle of the city,” he said.
Crash Barry drew a crowd of about a hundred on Thursday afternoon, when he handed out free marijuana, along with copies of his new book “ Marijuana Valley.” It was a celebration he shared with a variety of people, from bartenders and homeless folks to lawyers and doctors.
“I’m giving everybody a present of a book and one gram of cannabis in celebration of Maine’s first, legal 4/20, which is kind of like Christmas, Easter, New Year’s and St. Patrick’s Day all rolled together for the cannabis community,” Barry said Thursday.
It’s the first “holiday” since Maine voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in November, allowings adults age 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces. Retail sales won’t start until February at the earliest, but it’s perfectly legal to give away.
When Barry ran out of the 225 individually packaged samples, he began giving out loose buds from his own stash. The remaining line of about 50 people cheered this move. When that was gone, Barry gave the throng a foot-long joint to share among themselves.
Barry said he plans to return next year to host the event again.
BDN photojournalist Troy R. Bennett contributed to this report.