Maine state Rep. Diane Russell
After voters in Colorado and Washington last week voted to legalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, a lawmaker in Maine has renewed her push to do the same there. From the Portland Press Herald:
[State Rep. Diane] Russell said her proposal would generate new sales tax revenue for higher education, law enforcement and other needs. She also said she believes regulating the sale of marijuana at licensed locations would make it easier for law enforcement to hold suppliers accountable and keep the drug out of the hands of children.
"The only way we can do that is to regulate it," Russell said Wednesday in a telephone interview.
In Rhode Island, legislation also appears on the way.
Maine state Rep. Russell, a Democrat, offered a legalization bill last year, too. It lost in the state legislature, 107-39. Democrats won control of both chambers last week, but her party leaders sound like they're not eager to run this one far up the flag pole. On the other hand, Maine is a state with a long history of successful of citizen referendums, and I wouldn't rule it out here.
When Maine extended marriage rights to same-sex couples last week, that was the result of a citizen referendum -- activists collected signatures, put the question on the ballot, and then won the campaign. The issues of marriage equality and legalizing pot have been twinned, both in terms of political strategy by supporters and in terms of voters who back one also backing another. Mainers approved medical marijuana three years, by citizens referendum. Keep an eye for voters trying to do what their legislators consider too risky.
Below, Tuesday's segment on the federal/state conflict over legalizing pot.