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,
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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