It’s Official, Rep. Russell Intros Pro-Marijuana Bill Again
Thursday at 12 noon in the State House, Dianne Russell, a democrat from Portland submitted a bill to the state legislature that would give Mainers the chance to vote on legalizing recreational use of marijuana.
Russell's bill would make it legal for anyone 21 or older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of weed. A recent poll taken at the I-95 website had a result of 92% percent of the respondents wanting to legalize marijuana and 8% opposing it.
The bill would:
Remove criminal penalties for possession and growing a limited amount of marijuana for adults 21 and older.
Direct the Department of Administrative and Financial Services to license marijuana retail stores and production facilities.
Enact an excise tax of $50 per ounce. 10% of the revenue would be used for implementation of the law, 10% for substance abuse programs, 5% to study the effects of pot and the rest directed to the state's general fund.
It would allow localities to ban marijuana businesses in their communities.
Recently, Washington state and Colorado legalized the recreational use of marijuana. In Colorado alone, it's expected to generate 50 million dollars in new state revenue.
Diane Russell estimates that taxing and regulating marijuana could generate up to $13 million a year for Maine. Yesterday she said, “We have retail establishments that grow and supply [medical] marijuana to responsible consumers. 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.”
If the measure is passed by first the Legislature and then Maine voters, possessing and selling pot would still be a federal crime. Although, when commenting on the recently passed laws in Colorado and Washington President Obama said, "that federal authorities have "bigger fish to fry" when it comes to targeting recreational pot smokers in those states..
If passed by the legislature, "An Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana" would give all registered voters a say in November of 2014.