Maine Readying Marijuana Legalization

There are a number of bills and initiatives in Maine dealing with marijuana. The marijuana OUI bill is being proposed by the Department of Public Safety, which wants to set a limit that will allow police officers to determine when a driver is too stoned behind the wheel.

Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, said she will introduce her fourth bill to tax and regulate the use of recreational marijuana. She said this bill will be the Legislature’s last chance to get out in front of two competing citizen initiatives that are likely to end up on the 2016 ballot.

Two groups – the Marijuana Policy Project and Legalize Maine – plan to launch petition drives to collect signatures for 2016 referendums to legalize recreational drug use, as the states of Colorado and Washington have both done. The two proposals differ in approach and details, such as whether marijuana use should be limited to private homes or allowed in social clubs.

“If those both pass in 2016, the Legislature will have to decide the intent of voters and that will be a real mess for 2017,” Russell said. “The best thing to do is get ahead of the issue, set the policy and send it to referendum to let the people decide.”

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