Maine lawmakers just finished a public hearing on a measure which would make Maine the 3rd state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana for adults. Maine’s Joint Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety held the hearing on LD 1229 - the Marijuana Regulation Act – and the hearing contained dozens of testimonies.
“We have seen over the past several years a real culture shift in the attitudes towards marijuana”, stated the bill’s sponsor, Diane Russell, at the start of the hearing, “whether you like legalization or don’t, this issue is coming to our state. We have a responsibility as lawmakers to get ahead of the issue and deal with it responsibly.”
LD 1229 is supported by a bipartisan coalition of over 30 State Senators and Representatives, several of which testified in favor of the measure.
Other supporters included numerous Maine residents, representatives from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and the Marijuana Policy Project, and others including a city council member from Portland, Maine. Advocates argued that legalizing marijuana would reduce the dangerous black-market and increase revenue to the state.
Opponents, which consisted of the usual – substance abuse and prevention “experts” and law enforcement, mostly – made predictably stale arguments, such as it increasing “stoned driving” (advocates hit back with a recent study showing a decrease in traffic fatalities in medical marijuana states), and maintaining the myth that it’s a gateway drug (one speaker pointed out that the only thing making marijuana a gateway drug is the black-market which marijuana is placed in).
The committee scheduled a workshop for next Friday, where they will discuss the measure, including any possible amendments. The committee, although anything can happen, is expected to approve the measure.
Recent polling shows 57% of Americans to be in support of legalization.