Maine pot advocates using momentum for statewide legislation

November 20th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

(NECN: Amy Sinclair) – On election day, voters in Portland, Maine said “yes” to legalizing marijuana by a 2-to-1 margin. Now, marijuana advocates are using the momentum to push for the passage of statewide legislation.

And they’re making the argument that legalizing pot would be good for kids and the economy.

“I want to build public schools across Maine” may seem like a strange opener for a press conference on marijuana, but bill sponsor Rep. Diane Russell of Portland knows getting legislators and constituents on board will require a multi-faceted approach.

And that approach includes an earmark for school construction in her bill.

“It’s time to reclaim the tax revenue that’s rightfully ours,” said Russell.

The newly formed coalition that’s pushing for statewide legalization says if marijuana were taxed and regulated like alcohol and cigarettes, Maine would see millions in additional revenue. Russell’s bill would levy a 15 percent excise tax on growers and a 10 percent sales tax on consumers.

She estimates pot sales would raise $12-13 million a year.

“A wide open market would provide more jobs, more commerce, more tax receipts, and more business opportunities,” said Jonathan Kaelin, who currently cultivates plants for medical marijuana patients.

Some of that money would be used to fund a public education campaign to teach Maine youth about the risks associated with using marijuana.

“Right now

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