Bill calls for Maine referendum to legalize pot

February 21st, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

Posted: 1:42 PM
Updated: 4:52 PM

Bill calls for Maine referendum to legalize pot

By Michael Shepherd
State House Bureau

AUGUSTA — A Portland lawmaker on Thursday released details of a bill that would make Maine the third state, after Colorado and Washington, to legalize recreational marijuana use.

The bill sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, would legalize use and possession of small amounts of marijuana, allowing individuals to possess 2½ ounces and six plants. It also calls for issuing licenses to cultivators, marijuana product producers, retailers and laboratories.

Although the bill’s text has not yet been released, Russell said the legalization question would go to statewide referendum if it were to pass the Legislature.

Similar propositions have been political nonstarters before in Maine, but Russell thinks actions in Colorado and Washington, coupled Maine’s medical marijuana law, may lead to increased acceptance of her idea here.

“We have proven here in Maine that this can be done for medicinal purposes,” she said at a Thursday press conference. “It is now time to institute that same strict, regulatory infrastructure for responsible, adult recreational consumers.”

Marijuana is illegal at the federal level.

Maine is already more liberal on marijuana than most states. It is one of seven states to have laws both allowing medical use and decriminalizing possession of small amounts, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. It’s one of 18 states where medical marijuana is legal.

Russell, a liberal Democrat, sponsored a similar bill in 2011. It was killed after all but 39

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