Decriminalizing pot

March 18th, 2011 by admin Leave a reply »

Posted: March 18
Updated: Today at 11:06 PM

Decriminalizing pot

Two bills to further ease possession penalties are opposed by law enforcement.

By Rebekah Metzler
MaineToday Media State House Writer

AUGUSTA  – Two bills to broaden the decriminalization of marijuana in Maine got bipartisan support from lawmakers testifying at public hearings Thursday, but were opposed by law enforcement officials.

One measure, L.D. 754, would double the amount of usable marijuana that individuals could possess and still have it treated as a civil, rather than criminal, offense. The other, L.D. 750, would decriminalize possession of up to six marijuana plants.

“It is my fundamental belief that people who use marijuana for personal use on a recreational basis are not criminals,” said state Rep. Ben Chipman, an independent from Portland, to lawmakers on the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

“I just do not think that it’s reasonable to allow 2.5 ounces to be a civil infraction but having zero tolerance for plants and forcing consumers to the black market,” he said.

The use of medical marijuana has been legal in Maine since 1999, and dispensaries were legalized in a 2009 referendum vote. In spring 2009, the Maine Legislature increased the amount of marijuana a person could possess without facing criminal charges from 1.25 ounces to 2.5 ounces. Chipman’s

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