Lawmakers from opposite ends of the political spectrum unveiled a bill Thursday that would give Mainers the chance to legalize marijuana for recreational use in a statewide referendum.
The bill, sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, and co-sponsored by Rep. Aaron Libby, R-Waterboro, would make vast changes in Maine’s drug law, ranging from making possession of up to 2.5 ounces of pot legal to imposing a tax of $50 per ounce.
Russell and others argued during a press conference Thursday afternoon at the State House that laws against marijuana have enmeshed too many nonviolent offenders in the legal system and deprived government coffers of millions of dollars in revenue. Russell estimated that taxing and regulating marijuana could generate up to $13 million a year, three-quarters of which she proposes routing into the state’s General Fund, which supports the majority of state government including public education and most social services. The rest of the revenue would pay for implementation of the law, substance abuse treatment and prevention programs, and research on the effects of marijuana.