Thirty two Maine State Legislators and three State Senators have officially signed on as co-sponsors of a bill that would eventually legalize the recreational use of marijuana in Maine. The bill, "Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana,” was submitted by Representative Diane Russell of Portland, and would legalize the personal use and cultivation of marijuana for adults while allowing the state to license and tax the drug.

The bill now moves along to the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, which is chaired by one of the bill's co-sponsors, Sen. Stan Gerzofsky of Cumberland.

LD 1229 would make the private possession and home growing of limited amounts of marijuana legal for adults 21 and older. It would direct the Department of Administrative and Financial Services to license and regulate marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities, product manufacturing facilities, and testing facilities, and it would enact an excise tax of $50 per ounce on wholesale sales. The bill would also allow the state to begin regulating the cultivation, processing, and distribution of industrial hemp.

According to David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, "support for changing our marijuana laws is growing as more and more elected officials realize it makes no sense to maintain a system of prohibition for a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol. Maine can and should take a more sensible approach to marijuana policy, and we are glad to see so many legislators agree.”

If state lawmakers approve the bill this session, it will be referred to voters in the upcoming November election. If the measure gets carried over and approved during the next legislative session, it will be placed on the November 2014 ballot.

Recently, the City of Portland approved a petition that can now be circulated throughout the city, asking residents there if they'd like to approve recreational use of marijuana.  Also, U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree of Maine annouced that she is a co-sponsor of a pro marijuana bill at the federal level.