National pot group to focus efforts on Maine legalization

September 9th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

AUGUSTA, Maine — The national group that successfully pushed for legalization of marijuana in Colorado announced Monday that it will accelerate its efforts to pass laws that treat pot like alcohol in 10 more states by 2017.

The Marijuana Policy Project, based in Washington, D.C., made the announcement the day before the federal Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings on laws approved by voters in Washington and Colorado last year to legalize the recreational use of pot by adults. On Aug. 29, the U.S. Justice Department announced that it would not seek to prevent the implementation of those laws.

Maine made medical use of marijuana legal in 1999 and established a dispensary system for medical marijuana patients 10 years later. Earlier this year, 35 state lawmakers co-sponsored a bill by Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, to legalize and tax recreational use of marijuana. That bill was soundly defeated in committee, but Russell’s last-ditch attempt in June to put the question to a statewide referendum failed in the House by just four votes.

David Boyer, political director for Marijuana Policy Project in Maine, said that while the group continues to support legislative efforts toward legalization, the group will seek to put the issue in front of Maine voters via referendum in 2016.

“The legalization movement has really sped up over the past few years, but the political class is still kind of behind the times on this issue,” Boyer said in an interview Monday. “We put a lot of effort into Rep.

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