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Maine Legislative Council To Vote Today On Introduction Of Marijuana Legalization Measure

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marijuana reform bill legislature session legislative billsBy Erik Altieri, NORML Communications Director

On Thursday, November 21st, the Maine Legislative Council will be voting on whether or not to allow the introduction of LR 2329, a measure sponsored by Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) which would legalize the cultivation, possession, and use of marijuana by individuals over the age of 21 in addition to establishing retail outlets to sell marijuana and marijuana products.

It is extremely important that we cross this first hurdle at the Legislative Council tomorrow. We have a very real chance of passing this legislation if it is introduced. This is why we are asking all Maine residents to please take a minute of your time to contact the members of the council and urge them to support the introduction of this legislation.

Maine: Click here to contact the Legislative Council in support of LR 2329

Final language will be released soon, but you can see an overview of the legislation below. NORML believes this legislation presents a smart approach on marijuana for the state of Maine. It would allow anyone over the age of 21 to possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana, cultivate up to 6 plants, and purchase marijuana from established retail outlets. It also has key provisions in place that ensure individuals with several years residency in Maine and experience as a current medical marijuana dispensaries or caregiver are given priority on business licenses, explicitly leaves the current medical marijuana law in place for patients, and directs tax revenue to help low income patients be able to afford their medicine.

LR 2329: An Act To Align Maine’s Marijuana Laws with the Guidelines
Governing Taxation and Regulation Issued by the Federal Government

Overview

LR2329, “An Act to Align Maine’s Marijuana Laws With the Guidelines Governing Taxation and Regulation Issued by the Federal Government” is presented in light of the remarkable shifts in culture, events and momentum clearly moving Maine toward a model that regulates and taxes marijuana in a similar manner to the way we do alcohol. The Portland voter initiative answered the question for many, “Is Maine ready?”

Now, it’s time for a responsible, pragmatic policy. In short – a Maine approach. Here are some key elements of the bill, as well as the context or rationale where appropriate:

-The policy is focused on the responsible adult market and does not rewrite, recreate or in any way restrict the medical marijuana laws already on the books. Patients will continue to be able to procure medicinal marijuana from their current registered caregiver or registered dispensary provider without disruption. Further, the taxation structure currently in place for patients will remain in place going forward. The bill creates an entirely new chapter of law.

-The bill does allocate 5% of the excise tax revenue to a new fund to help low-income medical marijuana patients afford their medication.

-Adults over the age of 21 are allowed to possess, purchase, and consume cannabis.

-The department will be set up under what is currently BABLO – Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations. This department already oversees tightly regulated products and is most capable of overseeing the start-up of a similar set of rules for running a vice business.

-There are four types of licenses: Retail, Cultivation, Products and Testing. The cultivation licenses are divided up into tiers, allowing people to start small and scale up as appropriate to a maximum cultivation facility of 10,000 square feet – or, roughly a quarter of an acre. This addresses concerns about putting “the little guy” out of business.

-To obtain a license under the bill, applicants must have been a resident of Maine for a minimum of two years. This ensures that Maine people benefit from the industry directly.

-There will be a 10% sales and 15% excise tax with a minimum excise tax of $1.50 per gram.

-The revenue allocations include, but are not limited to: public school construction, addiction treatment services, youth marijuana prevention, Drugs for the Elderly, research, underage sales prevention, increased number of Drug Recognition Experts (DREs), Fund for a Healthy Maine, liquor and marijuana inspectors, etc.

-One of the key requirements from the DOJ was to avoid diversion, either to minors or to out-of-state locations where cannabis remains illegal. Further, they seek to stop rewarding cartels and drug dealers. The best way to meet both of these concerns is to ensure supply meets demand. If there is too much supply, the product will be diverted. If there is too much demand, dealers will step in. By extrapolating market data, we have estimated the production capacity should be a total of about 400,000 square feet to meet demand. We have authorized the bureau to allocate licenses at their discretion based on the number of applicants.

-Colorado is experiencing difficulties in setting up its regulatory structure because they did not set aside revenue for the process, and their licensing fees have not met the revenue needs. LR2329 gives discretion to the bureau to determine the cost for setting up the program, and adjusting application and licensing fees to ensure they have adequate resources to do so responsibly.

-Youth prevention is a big issue for the Coalition, but also for addiction counselors and law enforcement. The bill includes restrictions on advertising, strict guidelines against furnishing to minors, security requirements for farmers, and the creation of a funded Youth Marijuana Prevention advisory council. The Council’s primary objective will be to reduce youth consumption of marijuana throughout Maine.

-The bill authorizes “home grow,” a popular expectation for individuals – and a check against industrial marijuana. Municipalities may sell twist tie tax stamps to adult consumers who must attach the tie to the plant demonstrating they have the right to grow it. This does a few things. It allows individuals 21+ to do so while providing an easy way for law enforcement to know whether the plant in question is legal. Further, it ensures revenue for the state. The home cultivation license would prohibit the licensee to sell their product. We also outlined specific notifications that must be presented to the licensee, ensuring they are aware of their obligations and responsibilities under the law.

-At every opportunity, we have worked to protect the civil liberties of individuals who naturally fear reprisal from the federal government should policies change.

-There is no referendum in this bill.

Source: NORMLmake a donation

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  • @Bill, Not sure where you get your info. from by none of what you are talking about is true. Being a part of Diane’s committee I can assure you that your facts are incorrect. Please feel free to view the newly drafted bill in the link below, comments to it welcomed.

  • We have posted this drafted bill and have made changes to it since this vote. Please feel fee to view and comment. We want to hear from our fellow Mainers http://yesmaine.org Education for our state, Mainers speaking about this New tax !

  • painkills2

    I don’t think I have the money to do that. It always comes down to money, huh? :(

  • Sarijuana

    Wait it out here.

  • Uncle Arthur

    Oh one other thing Bill, how does feel for you and the MMCM to be on the side of project SAM, the rehab industry, the DEA and the prison lobby? You are the company you keep.

  • Uncle Arthur

    Actually, you are the one that’s projecting your cluelessness. Diane Russell’s bill had safe guards protecting medical marijuana interests in Maine and even gave them first dibs on opening stores. You are just talking that old tired stoner against legalization nonsense. Saying you’re for legalization and slamming legalization is typical stoner against legalization MO. To hell with you, I’m going to Colorado where I don’t have to deal with people like you. Good day.

  • bill

    you sir obviously have no clue what you’re talking about.

    the REAL reason that it was defeated was because the bill favored out of state interests. Plain and simple. Berkely patients group paid off state legislatures in maine to run 4 out of the 8 dispensaries back in ’09 The money generated by those 4 dispensaries is going back to cali and NOT benefiting the maine economy. Many people had no idea that this current bill was written to benefit out of state interests. I’m all for legalization, but i want the money to generate income for other mainers. Not greed driven pricks out west.

  • jontomas

    We made one big mistake when we created medical marijuana programs. We should have capped the price at $50 an ounce instead of letting dispensaries charge black-market prices.

    It has filled everyone’s eyes with dollar signs and they can see nothing else.

    Thankfully, Colorado passed home growing. That will keep everyone honest. After the dust settles on re-legalization, average quality marijuana will sell for around $50 an ounce, plus taxes.

    If price plus taxes edges over $100 an ounce, people will just grow their own. That will reduce commercial demand which will, in turn, bring prices back down to earth.

    It’s just a plant.

  • jontomas

    We made one big mistake when we created medical marijuana programs. We should have capped the price at $50 an ounce instead of letting dispensaries charge black-market prices.

    It has filled everyone’s eyes with dollar signs and they can see nothing else.

    Thankfully, Colorado passed home growing. That will keep everyone honest. After the dust settles on re-legalization, average quality marijuana will sell for around $50 an ounce, plus taxes.

    If price plus taxes edges over $100 an ounce, people will just grow their own. That will reduce commercial demand which will, in turn, bring prices back down to earth.

    It’s just a plant.

  • painkills2

    I’m reminded of a song: “He only grows for guys he knows… and me”
    Patients come first. We’ll all have to grown our own. Or patients will have to group together to support their own growers. Hopefully, in the end, this will be doable for all. I am willing to move one more time to a city that gets this right. Which will it be?

  • painkills2

    Hypocritical Porlandia ass-hole.

  • Patrick

    What is even more interesting that the vote failed was the guy representing Portland (which just legalized) voted no resulting in a tie vote of 5-5 and a tie works just like a no. So he went against the wishes of those in his own community whereas a 6-4 vote would have moved it forward.

  • Patrick

    That is the problem with MMJ in some areas. It is not about providing safe access to those who wish to use cannabis but more so they want to keep a monopoly on the sales from MMJ. Those people act no differently than the sick drug cartels. In every place that MMJ opposes the right for everyone to consume and cultivate cannabis, it all comes down to money. They oppose others having the same rights to grow and consume while claiming they are the champions of liberty and should have that right despite it being illegal federally.

    Not all MMJ producers are that way but then again, not everyone involved in MMJ actually give a shit about helping patients but see a unique opportunity to make bank profiting off of illness. These types are just as bad, if not worse, than pharmaceutical companies. This is exactly why MMJ dispensaries in Colorado went to the front of the line to get recreational licenses. Before, it was the Federal government that acted like douchebags with the war on cannabis. Now MMJ is acting like douchebags because they do not want everyone to have access unless they can profit from it. I just wish all parties would go flip off and leave the rest of us the hell alone.

  • Sarijuana

    You are saying medical marijuana folks are blocking recreational use? I need to go read up on this. That just sucks in so many ways.

  • Uncle Arthur

    I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I just read this afternoon in the Daily Chronic and NORML site that it got defeated. The Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine and their flying monkeys have struck again in their treacherous campaign to oppose adult use legalization (according to a 20th November article by High Times). God damn them! I thank Diane Russell for her noble efforts, and I’m sorry that she has to deal with that kind of douchebaggery.