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Maine House Rejects Marijuana Legalization Bill

Submitted by Phillip Smith on (Issue #688)
Drug War Issues

The Maine House voted overwhelmingly Tuesday to reject a bill that would have brought the state closer to legalizing marijuana for recreational use. The bill failed on a vote of 107-39.

The Maine state capitol. There is no joy for pot fans in Augusta this week. (Image via
Introduced by Sen. Diane Russell (D-Portland), the bill, LD 1453, would have legalized the possession and cultivation of marijuana for personal use and placed a 7% tax on pot sales. But the bill was amended in committee to propose a statewide voter referendum on the issue and to add a caveat that it would not take effect until marijuana was legal under federal law.

Even that watered down version of the bill was too much for opponents.

"I don’t believe the time has come yet for this," said Rep. Michael Celli (R-Brewer) during debate. "We have to let the federal government make the first move."

Supporters of the measure argued in vain that Maine was wasting $26 million a year enforcing the pot laws and that citizens should at least be given the chance to decide the issue. They also disputed statements by opponents that pot is a "gateway drug."

"It is time to stop turning law-abiding people into criminals," Russell said.

Not all Republicans opposed the bill. Libertarian-leaning Rep. Aaron Libby (R-Waterloo) said the federal government is trampling on states' rights and the constitution.

"We should follow the constitution and stop trying to police moralities," Libby said.

That's not going to happen this year, though. The same day the House rejected the bill, it went to the Senate, which concurred with the House vote. The bill is now dead for the session.

Permission to Reprint: This content is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license. Content of a purely educational nature in Drug War Chronicle appear courtesy of DRCNet Foundation, unless otherwise noted.


Esoteric Knowledge (not verified)

Are those 107 people my God now?  Is that their claim?

No one has the authority to illegalize a plant.

Only cowards are afraid of a plant.

These people are not the middle man between you and God, they are just plain liars.  The weakest individuals in our society are against this natural occuring plant, because they don't want real life to happen.  They are terrified of a world where they don't have complete control of your body and your mind.  These people are the scum of our society.  They should not be deciding laws, they should be at home sucking their thumb.  They are the worst.  What kind of person is afraid of a plant?  Someone who is afraid of life.  Human kind may never know what the world has waiting for them, the happiness that is available, if we allow the idiots of our society to claim the power of God and control everyone because of their own selfishness.

Wed, 06/15/2011 - 8:25pm Permalink
Arnold (not verified)

So this guy Rep Michael Celli says

"I don’t believe the time has come yet for this. We have to let the federal government make the first move."

Who does he think he is fooling? The federal government is never going to make the first move. I am sure this guy knows it, and is so very thankful that he gets to pawn the issue off on the fed. Hell, this "first move" that he speaks of is well behind us, with the number of decrim and medical marijuana laws on the books. Not to mention that if he took the time to look at history, then he would see that it took the states' refusal to enforce alcohol prohibition before it ended. The only way to change it is for enough states to say, "We are not going to be your little 'drug warriors' anymore."

Prohibition is the absolute worst way to promote safety and it certainly does nothing for liberty. This is not a matter of debate where someone's opinion wins. This is a matter of argument - get to the truth. The truth IS if you prohibit something that people want or need, then a black market arises.

AND HERE IS THE IMPORTANT POINT - The prohibited product is surrounded by crime and violence of a so called black market, only because law enforcement uses violence, repression and oppression in response to the very situation that the law, which they enforce, creates. And the problem with this point, I believe, is that many of those who are opposed to cannabis law reform will read my previous sentence and just not get it.

Then of course you get where we are today: law enforcement agencies do their very best to find psychopaths or mindless conformists to enforce unjust laws. Need I go on? Is there any need to mention that it costs money we don't have, that it is a tool of oppression, that the streets are less safe, that the reasons for prohibition in the first place were racist lies, that the reasons for prohibition keep changing and that those reasons are also based on lies and lack validity.

Wed, 06/15/2011 - 9:02pm Permalink
Epiffany (not verified)

In reply to by Arnold (not verified)

I whole-heartedly agree with you on this. "I don’t believe the time has come yet for this. We have to let the federal government make the first move." Really? The Feds aren't going to make a first move on this, its got to come from the individual states. Maine is also losing out on a lot of money because of this. 14 billion (with a b) in revenue from medical marijuana in 14 states alone last year.

Thu, 06/16/2011 - 12:08pm Permalink
saynotohypocrisy (not verified)

Is this the first time a full house of a state legislature has held a vote on cannabis legalization? Watered down as it was by being contingent on federal legalization, I think this is a landmark vote, the 39 votes for freedom, and individual not collective responsibility, are well more than just a handful. Until outright legalization thru the legislature has a chance of passing, maybe these contingent legalization votes will prove to be a good way to ratchet up pressure on the alcohol supremacist con artists. While pushing hard for initiatives in the states that trust the people to make decisions like this, since the gap between public opinion and lawmaker opinion on the drug war, and the marijuana war in particular, has grown extreme (unprecedented in our history, or close to it?).

Sun, 06/19/2011 - 3:07pm Permalink
Moonrider (not verified)

the gap between public opinion and lawmaker opinion on the drug war, and the marijuana war in particular, has grown extreme (unprecedented in our history, or close to it?).

Seems extreme to me.  

Those who claim to "represent" us use lies from NIDA (in a standard form letter format) to say no to their constituents every damn time one of them is asked about it (that is, if they respond at all).  But this is not just occurring with the drug war, it is happening with almost every issue.  For instance, the one who "represents" my congressional district was quoted in the media as saying: "My phone calls and emails were 50% 'no' and 50% 'HELL NO!'" but he still voted yes on the bailouts.  

Some people somewhere have an agenda and they do not want it derailed by the people, and they have our government in their dirty little pocket, and that agenda does not bode well for anyone who is neither an in-their-pocket-politician or one of them.  Some people may think that is a conspiracy theory (and too many "ands"), I say to them, start looking at the BIG picture, (and start following the money, it all leads, eventually, back to the same bunch), this is all much too coordinated to be anything else.

Sun, 06/19/2011 - 3:54pm Permalink

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