New Proposal to Legalize Marijuana in Maine Gets Mixed Reception

November 19th, 2013 by admin Leave a reply »

Rep. Diane Russell

State Rep. Diane Russell, of Portland, introduces her measure to legalize marijuana in Maine.

What Portland voters have said, in effect, according to Rep. Russell, is that the policies of prohibition aren’t working.

“And it was a clear statement that people are ready to tax and regulate marijuana like the commodity that it already is,” Russell said at a Portland news conference.

Russell’s bill would impose a 10 percent sales tax and a 15 percent excise tax on marijuana, with a minimum excise tax of $1.50 per gram. Under the measure, some of those funds would be allocated to prevent marijuana use among young people.

“We believe that a one-size-fits-all approach has not worked to protect our children,” Russell said. “It has not served our budget constraints. And it has not stemmed addiction. We believe it is time for a local approach with some Yankee ingenuity.”

Russell says the tax revenues brought in from pot sales could also pay for other state needs, including school construction. That idea has support from Denny Gallaudet, the former president of Casco Northern Bank and a retired school superintendent from Richmond.

Gallaudet says those working wtih high school kids sense that the “war on drugs” approach isn’t working. But he says specifics can be hard to nail down.

“The kids cannot talk to you, or deal with you, because the consequences in the school setting

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