Maine Lawmaker Calls for Statewide Legalization

A move by Portland, Maine, to decriminalize marijuana possession this month could usher in full cannabis legalization – and business opportunities – across the state.

State Rep. Diane Russell on Tuesday proposed a plan to legalize marijuana possession throughout Maine. Russell said in a news conference that Portland’s recent vote to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana sent a clear message that the state is ready to end prohibition and open the door to the recreational cannabis industry. (You can listen to the entire press conference here.)

“This was a clear rebuke of the current policy,” Russell contends. “And it was a clear statement that people are ready to tax and regulate marijuana like the commodity that it already is.”

Russell’s bill, LR 2329, would legalize possession for people over 21 statewide. It would also impose a 10% sales tax and a 15% excise tax on marijuana, with a minimum excise tax of $1.50 per gram. Some funding would be allocated to preventing the use of marijuana by young people.

Portland voted earlier this month to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana. Seen by lawmakers as symbolic, others within the industry said the vote could spur growth within Portland’s existing medical marijuana industry.