Joining the Mainstream?: Maine’s New Marijuana Proposition

maine Joining the Mainstream?: Maines New Marijuana PropositionExciting news out of Maine, as state law makers pushed forward LD 1229, an act which would regulate marijuana use in the state in a similar manner to tobacco and alcohol. Portland Democrat Diane Russell, author of the bill, has already gained the support of 35 co-sponsors in her state with talk of high tax revenues and decreased law enforcement hours. Groups such as NORML predict a slow but victorious outcome for Russell’s proposition. The bill would allow residents 21 and older to possess as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use, taxing $50.00 per ounce, producing an estimated $13 million in revenue for Maine. LD 1229 would also allow individuals to grow and cultivate up to 6 plants for personal use.   Russell spoke before Maine law makers Friday claiming that “this issue is coming to our state” whether law makers like it or not and that Maine needs to get ahead of the times. Russell pointed to successes in Washington and Colorado as well as evidence that five other states - Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Vermont and Pennsylvania - are considering similar bills this year in an effort to persuade her peers of the necessity of action. Numerous supporters of the bill also spoke Friday about the possible benefits of the bill, like David Boyer, member of the Maine Marijuana Policy Project, who said LD 1229 represents a “golden opportunity” for Maine and offers the state a leg-up in what will eventually become a national debate. Maine could take a lead on marijuana reform, said Boyer, and put themselves on the marijuana legalization map instead of reveling in the past, a system Boyer says fosters an illegal underground market which is completely open to minors. Legalizing the drug could protect drug abuse and make it more difficult for minors to obtain the drug while diminishing so-called “wasted time” and state money, claim the bill’s enthusiasts.   “For 42 years the United States has fought the war on drugs with ever-harsher policies,” said Jack Cole, a retired New Jersey state undercover narcotics officer and co-founder of LEAP, a marijuana legalization group consisting of law enforcers and policy makers. “To do so [the government] has spent $1.5 trillion of our tax dollars...during that time, more than 46 million arrests on nonviolent drug law violators were made...nearly half of those were for marijuana offenses.” Cole alleged the federal government has failed in its war on drugs, and that  “we cannot arrest our way out of these problems,” but opponents of the bill were quick to point out that legalization would not put a stop to many of the pressing matters surrounding marijuana use.   mainead Joining the Mainstream?: Maines New Marijuana Proposition Maine Chiefs of Police Association member Robert Schwartz called the bill a “launching pad” for regional drug dealers, who could make a market selling legal marijuana across state lines, pushing Maine into a difficult debate with its neighbors who would still consider the drug an illegal substance. Schwartz also voiced concern over the consequences legalization of marijuana would have on impaired driving rates. Governor Paul LePage has yet to take a stand on the bill, because according to his spokeswoman Adrienne Bennet, it is too soon to talk about what position he may take in the future, but supporters of the bill feel it is never to early to begin this discussion.
Joining the Mainstream?: Maine’s New Marijuana Proposition 2.33/5 (46.67%) 6 votes

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