Legalization advocates in Maine have started a second signature drive that would eventually place a proposal to legalize recreational marijuana in their state on the 2016 ballot. The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is backed by the Marijuana Policy Project from Washington D.C. and was given approval by the state officials to begin collecting signatures. The proposal would allow adults 21 or older to possess up to 1 ounce of marijuana for their personal use at home and grow up to 6 plants – also at home. It would also allow retail sales of cannabis to the same group of adults.
Equal taxation of marijuana and alcohol
“We’re excited to get out there and start talking to voters about the initiative and the many ways in which regulating and taxing marijuana will benefit our state,” said campaign manager David Boyer. “When Portland voted overwhelmingly in support of making marijuana legal for adults, local officials opted to use state law to continue punishing people. We couldn’t think of a better place to launch the effort to end marijuana prohibition at the state level.” Under the new measure, marijuana sales would be a subject to a special 10% sales tax, in addition to Maine’s standard sales tax, which is currently 5.5%. Medical marijuana sales would not fall into the 10% tax category. It seems as if cannabis reform is in full swing in Maine – the lawmakers are prepared as well and now have four separate pieces of legislation in the making as they prepare themselves for the coming cannabis boom. For instance, one of the proposed new laws would set a standard maximum level of THC in the bloodstream for anyone driving a motor vehicle, which is something that many advocates fear because it would allow police officers to write a lot more tickets.
Marijuana legalization in Maine is inevitable
Backers need to collect at least 61,123 signatures from registered Maine voters by January if they want to qualify for the November 2016 ballot. What’s interesting here is that legalization efforts in Maine have started way back in 1999 when the voters in Maine approved the state’s first medical marijuana bill with a majority voting in favor of it – 61% of voters said yes to the bill. Fast forward one decade later, and you’ll find that the law was improved to allow for storefront dispensaries and to broaden the list of acceptable medical conditions that marijuana could be recommended for. In 2011, the law had another makeover, this time with a goal of protecting patients’ rights by making many registration processes optional. With this in mind, it is safe to assume that statewide recreational marijuana legalization appears to be inevitable in Maine. There are two very loud, active and influential advocacy groups in Maine that are working hard to push their ideas about the legalization forward. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and Legalize Maine have managed to get 56% of Maine voters on their side.