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35 Maine lawmakers want to regulate and tax marijuana

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Legislation that would legalize and tax the recreational use of marijuana in Maine now has 35 co-sponsors in the state legislature.

“Support for changing our marijuana laws is growing as more and more elected officials realize it makes no sense to maintain a system of prohibition for a substance that is objectively less harmful than alcohol,” David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement. “Maine can and should take a more sensible approach to marijuana policy, and we are glad to see so many legislators agree.”

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The 28 Democrats, 3 Republicans, 1 Independent, and 2 tribal representatives who are co-sponsoring the bill represent a major shift from 2012, when similar legislation gained little support.

The bill, introduced by Rep. Diane Russell (D), would allow those over 21 years of age to purchase marijuana from state-licensed stores. Individuals could legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of the drug and grow up to six marijuana plants. The legislation reflects the state’s current medical marijuana laws, with the major exception being that anyone — not just those with a serious illness — would have access to the drug.

If the Maine legislature approves the bill, it would go to a statewide referendum in 2014.

Voters in Washington state and Colorado approved similar measures in November 2012.

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“Sometimes bills have to percolate before they really resonate,” Russell told Raw Story in February. “When Colorado and Washington decided to regulate marijuana like alcohol, a real snowball came at me. I didn’t think it was going to be that big of a deal, but in the end it’s become a real culture shift, and that shift has really happened across the country.”

Along with Maine, the Marijuana Policy Project expects to see strong marijuana legalization efforts in Oregon and California.

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[Woman smoking marijuana via Shutterstock]

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Enjoy this piece?

… then let us make a small request. Like you, we here at Raw Story believe in the power of progressive journalism — and we’re investing in investigative reporting as other publications give it the ax. Raw Story readers power David Cay Johnston’s DCReport, which we've expanded to keep watch in Washington. We’ve exposed billionaire tax evasion and uncovered White House efforts to poison our water. We’ve revealed financial scams that prey on veterans, and efforts to harm workers exploited by abusive bosses. We’ve launched a weekly podcast, “We’ve Got Issues,” focused on issues, not tweets. Unlike other news sites, we’ve decided to make our original content free. But we need your support to do what we do.

Raw Story is independent. You won’t find mainstream media bias here. We’re not part of a conglomerate, or a project of venture capital bros. From unflinching coverage of racism, to revealing efforts to erode our rights, Raw Story will continue to expose hypocrisy and harm. Unhinged from corporate overlords, we fight to ensure no one is forgotten.

We need your support to keep producing quality journalism and deepen our investigative reporting. Every reader contribution, whatever the amount, makes a tremendous difference. Invest with us in the future. Make a one-time contribution to Raw Story Investigates, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.



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