By Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director
This week, Representative Diane Russell (D-Portland) formally introduced LD 1229: An Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana into the Maine legislature. This legislation would legalize the sale of as much as 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana per week to people 21 or older at licensed retail locations. It would also permit for the cultivation of the plant in private settings. The measure has been assigned to the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.
In a previous session, an earlier version of Russell's legalization measure was rejected by House lawmakers by a vote of 107 to 39. States Rep. Russell: "I think there's been a major culture shift since I introduced this bill in 2011. What we'll see is a lot more folks ready to talk about this issue."
This cultural shift is readily apparent in the groundswell of support this legislation has already generated. LD 1229 was introduced with the backing of 35 co-sponsors from across the political spectrum. Those supporting the bill were 2 tribal representatives, 28 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 1 independent. The previous version of this measure only had 4 co-sponsors.
NORML is pleased to support this historic legislation that would make Maine the third state to tax and regulate the adult use of marijuana. This is common sense legislation that would put Maine at the vanguard of a reform which is not only supported by over half of the country, but would also save the state precious law enforcement resources, create a new job and tax producing industry, stop the arrest of non-violent citizens, enhance protection of civil liberties, and help keep marijuana out of the hands of Maine's children. We urge Representative Russell's colleagues to join with her and the 35 co-sponsors of LD 1229 in taking a stand to end the state's prohibition on marijuana and to start creating a safer Maine.
Our supporters generated hundreds of emails to their elected officials urging them to co-sponsor this measure and it looks like that outpouring of support is already paying off. However, we need to keep up the momentum. If you live in Maine, please take a moment today to contact your Representative and State Senator and urge them to support this important legislation. You can do so using NORML's Take Action Center here.