Politics

May 3, 2013

Disparate interests testify against Maine bill to legalize pot

The broad measure, sponsored by a Portland representative, would allow people 21 and older to possess 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana and six plants.

By Michael Shepherd mshepherd@mainetoday.com
State House Bureau

(Continued from page 1)

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Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) introduces LD 1229 on Friday during a hearing of The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety at the State House in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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Paul T. McCarrier, legislative liason for the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, talks to reporters on Friday at the State House in Augusta. He was there to testify against LD 1229, An Act To Regulate and Tax Marijuana.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

Additional Photos Below

Glenn Peterson, owner of Canuvo, a dispensary in Biddeford, has told the Portland Press Herald that he sells marijuana for $360 per ounce. McCarrier said caregivers sell it for $175 to $250 per ounce.

Legal recreational marijuana would likely undercut those prices, although it's difficult to estimate by how much. Experts say a successful program would tax marijuana enough to generate sufficient revenue, but not enough to encourage black-market sales.

A paper by a group of marijuana researchers, published last month in the Oregon Law Review, says the American marijuana market is a $30 billion-a-year industry, but modern farming techniques could supply that demand for "hundreds of millions of dollars."

While proponents of Russell's bill say access to marijuana is already easy, substance-abuse counselors expressed concern about Russell's bill Friday.

Scott Gagnon, substance abuse prevention manager for Healthy Androscoggin, a Lewiston-based health group, said problems with legal marijuana could mirror problems with prescription drugs -- prevalence in the homes of children.

"If you legalize this, you'll have more adults having it in the home," he said.

Many marijuana advocates, like McCarrier, are wary of the regulations called for in Russell's bill, though they support the concept.

Don Christen, a longtime advocate of legal marijuana, said, "People who are against it, they want to see prohibition ended but they don't want to see it ... under the regulations that are under this law.

"Forget the money," he said. "We can make our own money; Maine's smart."

Michael Shepherd can be contacted at 620-7015 or at:

mshepherd@mainetoday.com

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme

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Additional Photos

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Shenna Bellows, executive director, ACLU of Maine, left, and Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) spoke at a news conference about LD 1229 on Friday before a hearing of The Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety at the State House in Augusta.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

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Sagadahoc County Sheriff Joel Merry talks to reporters on Friday at the State House in Augusta. He was there to testify against LD 1229, An Act To Regulate and Tax Marijuana.

Staff photo by Joe Phelan

 


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