Marijuana: Maine Governor Wants to Increase Fines to Pay for Narcs 5/27/05

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Maine Gov. John Baldacci (D) wants marijuana-smokers to pay more for their own persecution. In response to much ballyhooed (but yet to occur) cuts in federal funding for state and local drug law enforcement efforts, Baldacci moved last week to increase the civil fines for marijuana possession violations. The fines would also become mandatory. The money raised by the increased fines would go directly to state law enforcement's drug-fighting budgets, Baldacci's representatives told legislators May 19.

While the use and possession of small amounts of marijuana has been decriminalized in Maine, those cited for civil violations are currently hit with a minimum $200 fine. Under Baldacci's proposal, that minimum fine would double to $400 and the maximum fine would jump from $400 to $600. For a second offense within a six-year period, the fine would increase from $400 to $600. And just for good measure, Baldacci's proposal would also increase the fines for drug paraphernalia violations, from $200 to $300, and make them mandatory, too.

The changes would result in $2.3 million in revenues for state drug law enforcement in the next two-year budget cycle, said Baldacci's representatives. "Funding that was available for drug enforcement agents was rather severely cut back," Rebecca Wyke of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services told legislators. "In order to make up for that, we looked at a proposal to increase drug-related fines."

"Without these fines we would be looking at abolishing the Maine Drug Enforcement Agency in fiscal year 2007," said Ryan Lowe, from the same department. "It's somewhat of a balancing act. We're not raising money to put into the general fund for an unrelated expense, these are directly related to funding the drug enforcement agency."

Actually, we couldn't think of a better state agency to be sunsetted.

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Issue #388 -- 5/27/05

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Editorial: Reasonable Standards | Feature: Federal Bill to Rein in Anti-Drug Task Forces Introduced in Response to Tulia Scandal | "Drug Tourists" Provoke Competing Cries for Regulation, Repression in Holland | Chances of Medical Marijuana Passage in Statehouses Now Focused on Northeast | Announcement: DRCNet/Perry Fund Event to Feature US Rep. Jim McDermott, June 1 in Seattle | Weekly: This Week's Corrupt Cops Stories | Marijuana: Maine Governor Wants to Increase Fines to Pay for Narcs | Congress: House Bill Would Let "Victims" Sue Drug Dealers, But Only if They Snitch | Southwest Asia: Azerbaijan, US Sign Anti-Drug Agreement Despite Human Rights Abuses | Europe: Swiss Panel Says New Drug Policy Should Include Alcohol, Tobacco, Opt for Pragmatism | Asia: Thai Drug War Now Targets Cocaine | Update: Schapelle Corby Sentenced to 20 Years | Weekly: This Week in History | Job Listing: Outreach Coordinator, Coalition for Higher Education Act Reform (DRCNet) | Weekly: The Reformer's Calendar

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