Pubdate: Wed, 20 Nov 2013
Source: Portland Press Herald (ME)
Copyright: 2013 MaineToday Media, Inc.
Author: Leslie Bridgers


State Rep. Diane Russell is hoping that Portland voters' decision 
this month to legalize the recreational use of marijuana will propel 
her third attempt to pass a bill allowing the sale and taxation of 
the drug statewide.

But the group that petitioned for the new Portland ordinance - as 
well as marijuana caregivers, dispensary owners and youth drug 
prevention advocates - don't want to see the Portland Democrat's bill 
move forward.

The state's Legislative Council is slated to decide Thursday whether 
to allow Russell's proposal, and others, to be taken up as "emergency 
bills" in the next session, which starts in January.

"There's no sense we have an emergency on our hands," said David 
Marshall, a Portland city councilor and a leader in the local Green 
Party's push to legalize pot in the city.

Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, a trade association 
representing people who grow and provide medical marijuana, sent out 
a letter asking people to urge their legislators not to support the bill.

"Time is needed to develop a good law that generates revenue for the 
state and benefits as many Maine people as possible," it said.

Russell's last two marijuana legalization bills, one proposed in 2011 
and the other last spring, were both referred to the Legislature's 
Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which voted them down.

The new proposal would impose a 10 percent sales tax and 15 percent 
excise tax on marijuana. That revenue would go toward public school 
construction, addiction treatment and the prevention of underage 
sales and usage, among other programs.

Russell held a news conference Tuesday at Portland City Hall to talk 
about her bill and a new group supporting it, called A Maine Approach 

In response to the announcement, two groups - Smart Approaches to 
Marijuana and 21 Reasons, which advocates for drug-free youth - 
countered suggestions that the legalization of marijuana could cut 
down on pot usage by young people.

Citing statistics from the Maine Integrated Youth Health Survey, 21 
Reasons pointed out that most young people report that alcohol is 
easy for them to obtain.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom