Rec legalization, MMJ bills on tap in Maine

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A Maine lawmaker plans to take another shot at legalizing recreational marijuana, saying it’s important to “get ahead of the issue” and set policy before two pro-cannabis groups introduce private initiatives.

State Rep. Diane Russell, D-Portland, intends to craft a bill next year to regulate and tax cannabis – which would rank as her fourth attempt to legalize marijuana in Maine.

She also plans to back a measure that would allow doctors to prescribe medical marijuana as they see fit, in effect eliminating the list of conditions patients must have in order to qualify for MMJ cards. The measure could greatly expand the state’s medical cannabis market, which currently has more than 17,000 patients.

Russell said the state should take a proactive role in marijuana legalization, which would allow it to better govern and tax the industry.

The Marijuana Policy Project and Legalize Maine have already said they’ll launch initiatives to get recreational marijuana on the 2016 ballot.