Collins, Bellows disagree on whether feds should legalize marijuana

August 29th, 2014 by admin Leave a reply »

LEWISTON, Maine — U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, doesn’t support making marijuana legal for recreational use at the national level.

But in November, Lewiston voters will get a shot at sending a message to Congress and the Legislature when they vote on a citywide ballot question that would make possession of up to 1.5 ounces of marijuana legal for adults age 21 and older.

“From a federal perspective, if there were a bill in the Senate to legalize marijuana, I would vote against it,” Collins said.

That decision, she said, is based on extensive conversations she has had with medical professionals, law enforcement and others about what they are seeing in Maine in terms of substance abuse and a growing body of science that suggests marijuana use by teens can have a damaging impact on brain development.

“When we legalize a controlled substance, we send a message that there is no harm and that, based on all the conversations I’ve had with medical personnel and others, is just not the case,” Collins said.

Her position contrasts sharply with that of her Democratic opponent, Shenna Bellows, former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine.

“We need to end the war on drugs and reform our criminal justice system,” Bellows said. “We cannot afford to wait. We should treat drug use and marijuana use as a public health issue, rather than a criminal one. I support marijuana legalization.”

Portland voters in November 2013 overwhelmingly approved an ordinance change legalizing adult possession of

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