Bill To Legalize Marijuana in Maine

Feb 22, 2013

Law­mak­ers from oppo­site ends of the polit­i­cal spec­trum unveiled a bill Thurs­day that would give Main­ers the chance to legal­ize mar­i­juana for recre­ational use in a statewide ref­er­en­dum. The bill, spon­sored by Rep. Diane Rus­sell, D-Portland, and co-sponsored by Rep. Aaron Libby, R-Waterboro, would make vast changes in Maine’s drug law, rang­ing from mak­ing pos­ses­sion of up to 2.5 ounces of pot legal to impos­ing a tax of $50 per ounce. Rus­sell and oth­ers argued dur­ing a press con­fer­ence Thurs­day after­noon at the State House that laws against mar­i­juana have enmeshed too many non­vi­o­lent offend­ers in the legal sys­tem and deprived gov­ern­ment cof­fers of mil­lions of dol­lars in rev­enue. Rus­sell esti­mated that tax­ing and reg­u­lat­ing mar­i­juana could gen­er­ate up to $13 mil­lion a year, three-quarters of which she pro­poses rout­ing into the state’s Gen­eral Fund, which sup­ports the major­ity of state gov­ern­ment includ­ing pub­lic edu­ca­tion and most social ser­vices. The rest of the rev­enue would pay for imple­men­ta­tion of the law, sub­stance abuse treat­ment and pre­ven­tion pro­grams, and research on the effects of mar­i­juana. “We have retail estab­lish­ments that grow and sup­ply [med­ical] mar­i­juana to respon­si­ble con­sumers,” said Rus­sell, whose first effort to legal­ize mar­i­juana failed in the Leg­is­la­ture two years ago. “We have proven here in Maine that this can be done for med­i­c­i­nal pur­poses and it’s now time to insti­tute that same strict reg­u­la­tory infra­struc­ture for respon­si­ble adult recre­ational con­sumers.” Rus­sell pro­poses mak­ing it legal for indi­vid­u­als to grow as many as six plants if they are cul­ti­vated in a locked space. She also sup­ports allow­ing the trans­fer of the drug from one adult to another with­out com­pen­sa­tion, as long as they are at least 21 years old. The bill would make it ille­gal to smoke pot in pub­lic and calls on the Depart­ment of Admin­is­tra­tive and Finan­cial Ser­vices to license mar­i­juana retail stores, cul­ti­va­tion facil­i­ties, prod­uct man­u­fac­tur­ing facil­i­ties and test­ing facil­i­ties. Libby said his sup­port for the bill isn’t about pro­mot­ing drug use, but rather about tak­ing gov­ern­ment reg­u­la­tion out of what he called a “moral­ity issue.” “I believe that end­ing mar­i­juana pro­hi­bi­tion is a true part of lim­ited gov­ern­ment,” said Libby. “As a fis­cal con­ser­v­a­tive, I see great poten­tial in the eco­nomic growth of remov­ing these pro­hi­bi­tions.” David Boyer, who is the Maine polit­i­cal direc­tor for a Wash­ing­ton D.C.-based group called the Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Project, argued that in many ways mar­i­juana is far less harm­ful than alco­hol. “Mar­i­juana is objec­tively far less harm­ful than alco­hol for the con­sumer and for the broader com­mu­nity,” he said. “It is irra­tional to pun­ish adults who sim­ply pre­fer to use the less harm­ful sub­stance. Law enforce­ment resources should be focused on pre­vent­ing and respond­ing to seri­ous crimes rather than enforc­ing the failed pol­icy of mar­i­juana pro­hi­bi­tion.” Deni­son Gal­laudet, a for­mer super­in­ten­dent in the Rich­mond area, also sup­ports the bill because of the poten­tial rev­enue that could be reaped by the state. But another rea­son for his sup­port of the bill is that in his expe­ri­ence, drug laws don’t keep mar­i­juana out of the hands of kids. “We were con­fronted with the fact that our high school kids were smok­ing mar­i­juana at twice the rate of smok­ing cig­a­rettes,” said Gal­laudet of his time as super­int­e­dent. “This is clearly a plan that is not work­ing.” If passed by the Leg­is­la­ture, “An Act to Tax and Reg­u­late Mar­i­juana” would result in a statewide ref­er­en­dum in Novem­ber 2014. Wash­ing­ton and Col­orado approved bal­lot mea­sures last year that legal­ized mar­i­juana for recre­ational use. Bills to reg­u­late and tax mar­i­juana like alco­hol also are expected to be debated this year in Hawaii, Mass­a­chu­setts, New Hamp­shire, Penn­syl­va­nia and Ver­mont, accord­ing to the Mar­i­juana Pol­icy Project. Source: Ban­gor Daily News (ME) Author: Christo­pher Cousins, Ban­gor Daily News Pub­lished: Feb­ru­ary 21, 2013 Copy­right: 2013 Ban­gor Daily News Inc. Web­site: http://​www​.ban​gornews​.com/

46f3e025d2ijuana.jpg 150x112 Bill To Legalize Marijuana in Maine

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Bill To Legal­ize Mar­i­juana in Maine

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