The Portland area is pretty stoned, statistically speaking

Good evening from the BDN Portland office on Congress Street. Let’s talk about weed.

What we’re talking about

Portlanders and the other residents of Cumberland County consume marijuana considerably more often, and are much less worried about its health effects, than the average American, a study by U.S. Department of Health and Human Services found.

Across the country, 7.73 percent of people age 12 or older have used pot in the last four weeks, while in Cumberland County it’s 12.88 percent, according to estimates from a two-year survey of more than 200,000 people across the country. And throughout the United States, 28.5 percent of those 12 and up perceive a great risk of harm from smoking once per month, while only 16.45 percent of people here say they are that worried.

Portland passed a city ordinance allowing recreational marijuana use in 2013 despite state law that still bans it. But Cumberland County is apparently less pot happy than America’s most stoned city, San Francisco, where 15.46 percent of people reported using marijuana in the last month. America’s least pot-friendly region is in southern Texas, where only 3.93 percent of people have used.

The study does not offer city-level statistics, but in Maine, Cumberland County smokes less frequently than Penobscot and Piscataquis counties, where, when taken together, 13.25 percent of residents 12 and older have used in the last month, as Emily Burnham reported today. But Mainers in those counties are a bit more worried about smoking marijuana, with 17.27 percent of those 12 or older believing it comes with great risk of harm.

Overall, Mainers are among some the most likely users of marijuana in the nation. And the fact than an estimated 82 percent of people in the state don’t believe smoking once per month poses a grave health risk, may bode well for the “Yes” side when the question of legalization is put to voters in November. — Jake Bleiberg


Uber could soon have some competition in PortlandRandy Billings reports that Lyft, a ride-sharing service that’s similar to Uber, has paid for a permit to operate in Maine. The company plans to make an announcement this week, he said.

“The company also contacted Portland officials within the last month about launching a service, and it has been advertising for drivers,” he said.

We rode on the ‘only human-powered tour boat’ on the East Coast — Kathleen Pierce took a cruise on a boat that runs on its own passengers’ power. (It’s BYOB.)

“Run by Peaks Island native Neil Kinner, the new cycle boat is the choice for Portlanders who don’t need to see Fort Gorges or the Head Light again, but want a break from the hot cobblestone streets packed with ice cream-licking tourists,” she writes.

Good news! — Darren “Charts” Fishell reports: “Maine’s economy grew at the ninth-fastest rate in the country during the first quarter of 2016, turning around a steep decline in the same quarter one year earlier. … The first quarter of 2016, in general, was a turnaround of 2015, when most industries posted declines in real GDP.”

Big ideas

Documenting ‘the human toll of terror’ — The New York Times’ deeply reported piece on the lives lost during two weeks of terror attacks is heartbreaking and important. Read this today.

Donald Trump just encouraged Russia to spy on Hillary ClintonThis really happened.

Here’s the best thing I’ve read on Pokemon Go — John Holyoke has a pretty good reason for liking the game:

For the past nine years, since Karen and I began dating, I’ve spent a ton of time around her children.

During that time, I realized, I’ve spent a lot of time telling them why a particular thing was interesting, or important, or worth doing. Then I spent even more time telling them how things ought to be done, and why it mattered.

Consequently, I spent very little time asking them the same questions, or simply saying, “That’s cool. What is it?”

On that day, things were different. Thrown into a game environment that I didn’t understand, with creatures whose names I couldn’t pronounce, I spent a lot of time asking … and listening … and learning.

If Pokemon Go can accomplish that feat — teaching an old dog like me some new tricks, while also coercing the family into getting some exercise and spending time together — it’s OK in my book.

Got any interesting story ideas, suggestions or links to share? Email Dan MacLeod at, or tweet @dsmacleod.

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Dan MacLeod

About Dan MacLeod

Dan MacLeod is the managing editor of the Bangor Daily News. He's an Orland native who moved to Portland in 2002 and now lives in Unity. He's been a journalist since 2008, and previously worked for the New York Post and the Brooklyn Paper.