Portland legislator pushes bill to legalize, tax marijuana in Maine

April 19th, 2011 by admin Leave a reply »

PORTLAND — Imagine walking into a neighborhood store to buy beer, wine, liquor and cigarettes. But on your way home you make one more stop – to buy marijuana, legally.

That’s the vision Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, will outline at a press conference on Wednesday at Portland City Hall, when she introduces LD 1453: An Act to Legalize and Tax Marijuana.

The bill would legalize and regulate marijuana much the same way the state regulates the alcohol and tobacco industries. It would allow adults over 21 to cultivate, possess, purchase and use marijuana within certain limits.

The bill would also institute a 7 percent sales tax on recreational and medicinal marijuana transactions.

“It’s an issue whose time has come,” Russell said in an interview Monday morning at the Hilltop Coffee Shop on Munjoy Hill.

Russell said the legislation is supported by the Maine Civil Liberties Union and by a group of caregivers who grow and supply patients with medical marijuana.

Since the bill would legalize pot, it would affect Maine’s medical marijuana law, making it unnecessary to get a doctor’s permission to buy and use the the drug.

MCLU Public Policy Counsel Alysia N. Melnick called the proposal “smart policy.” Investing scarce resources into criminalizing people who use marijuana is costly, inhumane and diverts funding from more important programs, she said.

“The ‘war on drugs’ is quite costly in both financial and human terms, and the prohibition of marijuana has not measurably reduced its use,” Melnick said. “This is a

Article source: http://www.theforecaster.net/content/p-maine-rep-introduces-bill-legalize-tax-marijuana-042011