Maine Senate opposes sending recreational marijuana question to voters

June 12th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Senate on Monday snuffed any chance that the state’s voters would decide at the ballot box this year whether to make marijuana legal for recreational use.

The Senate voted 24-10 Monday morning against sending the question to this November’s ballot. That followed a vote Friday in the House of Representatives where the measure fell four votes short of passage. The measure stemmed from LD 1229, which was sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, who proposed a system of regulating and taxing the drug. After a clear majority of the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee opposed that plan, lawmakers who voted in the minority moved forward with an amendment calling for a referendum that would send voters a straight up-or-down question on whether the state should craft rules to allow recreational use of marijuana. The Senate debated that question Monday.

While some senators argued that the Legislature should act before the issue is forced upon lawmakers by a citizen initiative, others made it clear that they don’t want their votes recorded as paving the way to legalized pot.

“We need to get ahead of this issue,” said Sen. Linda Valentino, D-Saco, noting that gambling and alcohol are addictive, but allowed and regulated in Maine. She argued that the question posed by LD 1229 would give legislators better control of rulemaking than a citizen initiative would.

Sen. Gary Plummer, R-Windham, said the decision should be left to the Maine people.

“This bill doesn’t propose legalizing marijuana,”

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