AUGUSTA, Maine (May 19, 2015) – A bill introduced in Maine this month would authorize marijuana to be taxed and regulated similar to alcohol, legalizing the plant, and effectively blocking the federal prohibition on the same.
LD1401 was introduced on May 12 by Rep. Mark Dion (D-Portland) and seven bipartisan co-sponsors. If this bill is successful, Maine would become the first state to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes through the legislature rather than the popular vote.
LD1401 permits a Maine resident aged 21 or older to do the following:
Transport cannabis accessories and up to one ounce of cannabis, or its equivalent in cannabis products…
Transfer or furnish, without remuneration, up to one ounce of cannabis, or its equivalent in cannabis products, to a person who is 21 years of age or older…
Purchase up to one ounce of cannabis, or its equivalent in cannabis products, cannabis seedlings, clones, seeds and cannabis accessories from a retail cannabis store.
In addition, individuals aged 21 or older would be allowed to “cultivate up to 3 flowering cannabis plants at that person’s place of residence, on property owned by that person or, with the permission of the owner, on another person’s property” as long as “reasonable precautions” are taken to keep the plants away from minors.
Under LD1401, it would still be a “a civil violation for which a fine of $100 may be adjudged” to smoke cannabis in a public place. Cannabis retail outlets would be licensed by the state and marijuana sold by the retailers would be subject to a 10 percent sales tax. The existing medical marijuana program in Maine would not be affected by the provisions of LD1401.
Two other bills are active in the Maine state legislature this year (LD23 and LD35) that would increase patient access to medical marijuana, cutting further at the federal prohibition on the plant. Although these bills are not as comprehensive as LD1401, it shows that there is ample opportunity for Maine legislators to act immediately to sensibly and compassionately regulate marijuana.
The best thing about measures such as these is that they are completely lawful, and there is little if anything the feds can do to stop them in practice.
The passage of this bill would mark an enormous step in the right direction for cannabis rights advocates in the state of Maine. The top-down federal mandates that have failed for so many decades are being replaced by a more compassionate, decentralized approach that is responsive to the needs of the people.
Activists should embrace this tremendous opportunity to make it more difficult for individuals to be locked in cages for the non-violent non-crime of marijuana possession. The end of the federal drug war is on its way whether detractors like it or not. A measures such as LD1401 would help us toward that inevitable goal.