Marijuana Legalization Measure Formally Introduced in Maine with 35 Co-Sponsors

This week, Representative Diane Russell (D-Portland) formally introduced LD 1229: An Act to Tax and Regulate Marijuana into the Maine legislature. This legislation would legalize the sale of as much as 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana per week to people 21 or older at licensed retail locations. It would also permit for the cultivation of the plant in private settings. The measure has been assigned to the Joint Standing Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, but has yet to be scheduled for a hearing.

In a previous session, an earlier version of Russell’s legalization measure was rejected by House lawmakers by a vote of 107 to 39. States Rep. Russell: “I think there’s been a major culture shift since I introduced this bill in 2011. What we’ll see is a lot more folks ready to talk about this issue.”

This cultural shift is readily apparent in the groundswell of support this legislation has already generated. LD 1229 was introduced with the backing of 35 co-sponsors from across the political spectrum. Those supporting the bill were 2 tribal representatives, 28 Democrats, 3 Republicans, and 1 independent. The previous version of this measure only had 4 co-sponsors.

NORML is pleased to support this historic legislation that would make Maine the third state to legalize the adult consumption of marijuana and regulate its retail production and sale. This is common sense legislation that would put Maine at the vanguard of a reform which is not only supported by over half of the country, but would also save the state precious law enforcement resources, create a new job and tax producing industry, stop the arrest of non-violent citizens, enhance protection of civil liberties, and help keep marijuana out of the hands of Maine’s children. We urge Representative Russell’s colleagues to join with her and the 35 co-sponsors of LD 1229 in taking a stand to end the state’s prohibition on marijuana and to start creating a safer Maine.

Our supporters generated hundreds of emails to their elected officials urging them to co-sponsor this measure and it looks like that outpouring of support is already paying off. However, we need to keep up the momentum. If you live in Maine, please take a moment today to contact your Representative and State Senator and urge them to support this important legislation. You can do so using NORML’s Take Action Center here.

33 thoughts

  1. Fine, except for the $50/ounce excise tax. Where does that come from? If alcohol and tobacco were taxed at a similar rate, the retail price of those products would be absurdly high. This tax will keep much less harmful marijuana products ridiculously expensive and continue to favor the use of alcohol and tobacco.

  2. I understand that this course of Legalization is necessary to get where I hope marijuana is totally legal. I just hate playing the you can tax people for it as a cure. I think a lot of people must feel the same.

  3. Somewhat like a perfect V Washington, Colorado, and hopefully the state of Maine V for victory and hopefully will spread across the land

  4. Just want to be sure, its 50.00 an ounce tax? now is that for the sale or does apply to those who will take advantage of the growers choice for personal useage? not all growers are going to yeild the same amount of flowers, so how would that work out if even the grower has to pay 50.00 for his or her yeild/ ounce, when no one but the grower can be honest about how much their crops yeiled?
    I understand it if it is to the whole sale only, even tho it is kinda steep, I understand it.
    Any one got another angles to view this from?
    Im curious on this because no matter what, the Federal Government needs to see progress from any state regulating this matter, to be able to set up their own regulations, or to let the CSA be amended, so cannabis is no longer a part of the harmful clause…..

    as always
    thanks for reading

  5. Talking about a post-legalization world here, as exists in Colorado and Washington, the $50 tax will be burdensome enough for consumers that many may attempt to subvert the tax.

    Accounting for an expected price drop of 50-80% given a limited time after legalization, let’s assume the following pre-tax retail prices:

    High Grade: $200/oz
    Mid Grade: $100/oz
    Low Grade: $50/oz

    Add $50, and you’ll get between a 25%-100% tax imposed upon the retail sale alone. Instead, if transactions from commercial growers were taxed at $10-25 an ounce, the tax would be reasonable. 5-25% (and up to 50% for mid grade) tax is friendly, whereas 25%-100% would make cannabis by far the highest taxed commodity.

    Why can’t MPP and NORML be there to help lawmakers crunch numbers?

  6. @Don Berry
    I don’t know where you live but by the time alcohol is purchased by you it is about the same tax wise. Have you ever been to a tax free shop when leaving the country? Alcohol is insanely cheap less than 1/2 price usually. My mom got a 3 liter bottle of Bacardi for $40 when she went on a cruise last year. That bottle would have been over $100 if purchased from a taxed liquor store. Look at it this way all the $50 dollar ounce taxes added up over your whole life won’t matter compared to a huge fine, possible jail/prison time, and a permanent record. My friend was fined $1000 for a pipe found in his car and it was his first offense. In Kansas being caught with a pipe can be $10,000 and jail time for first offense and it is the same punishment for any amount of weed even less than 1 gram. If you account for crap like this $50 an ounce tax is nothing I will be happy to give the government their bribe money even if it’s not quite fair it is better than what we have now.

  7. @wbs
    I live in the USA where, according to the US Treasury, no tax on alcohol or tobacco products approaches the rate proposed for marijuana until the 1000 cigarette level. A pack of large cigarettes is taxed $2.11. An ounce of roll-your-own tobacco is taxed $1.5488. The highest alcohol tax is $13.50 on a gallon of 100 proof, beer and wine are taxed dramatically less.

    Proposed marijuana excise taxes are obscenely high in comparison and based on nothing factual. I’ll grow my own at home for free.

  8. well it is a plant…how’s about putting that high of a tax on roses, lillies, lilacs, or anything else that’s a natural remedy? let’s see how far that would fly.

  9. I don’t care about a tax. I would gladly pay a 50 dollar an ounce tax. I’m always getting quarters, so that would be what, $12:50? That’s a small price to pay for legalization. I would much rather pay twelve extra dollars for a quarter than deal with cops, paranoid dealers and sketchy systems of supply and demand.

    Plus, you get to grow a plant in a private setting? Fuck. I want to be able to grow my own weed plant.

  10. At least it is nice to finally see some movement on the east coast. Now just make it move lower than virgina. Yes, that is what I think of that state.

  11. Maybe this will shed some light on the tax issue;

    1. Rate of excise tax. An excise tax is imposed on the sale or transfer of marijuana from a marijuana cultivation facility to a retail marijuana store or marijuana product manufacturing facility. Each marijuana cultivation facility shall pay an excise tax at the rate of $50 per ounce, or proportionate part thereof, on marijuana that is sold or transferred from a marijuana cultivation facility pursuant to Title 22, chapter 558-D. 2. Adjustment for inflation. The excise tax rate under subsection 1 must be adjusted annually for inflation pursuant to this subsection.
    A. Beginning in 2015, on or about February 15th of each year, the State Tax Assessor shall calculate the adjusted excise tax rates by multiplying the rates in effect on the calculation date by an inflation index computed as provided in paragraph B. The adjusted rates must then be rounded to the nearest penny and become effective on the first day of July immediately following the calculation. The assessor shall publish the annually adjusted excise tax rates and shall provide all necessary forms and reports.
    B. The inflation index is the Consumer Price Index as defined in section 5402, subsection 1 for the calendar year ending on the December 31st immediately preceding the calculation date, divided by the Consumer Price Index for the prior calendar year. The inflation index may not be less than one.

    As of this coming September, I have waited 40 years to see marijuana legalized. I agree that the proposed tax rate is a steep one but once commercial production of marijuana begins, the competition will drive the retail price down enough to offset the tax from the consumer’s point of view. It may even help keep taxes down on other things as well. At this point, I will not argue over the tax. Let’s just get it legalized first.

  12. if you’re looking at or if you’re reading this uh message and you’re interested and how long the government has known about the curing process are the ability that marijuana have or I should say cannabis as on curing cancer and people are rats my whatever I don’t mean whatever start answering people that whatever go on the computer are you have a lot on your smartphone and look up the movie or documentary the Union documentary the Union documentary you will be surprised watch the full thing the whole thing it has a lot to say I believe that marijuana should be passed as Medical, medicinal

  13. To the argument that we should legalize first, ask questions later –> We have started that process in Colorado and Washington, but California’s medical law technically gives patients more rights than either state’s legislation did for adults. The sea is definitely changing, and now is the opportunity to fine-tune the tax and regulations to realistic levels through the grand experiment of states rights.

    Just because it will cost less to produce and there will be more legitimate competition as a result of ending prohibition does not therefore mean that the government should take more of my money.

  14. 2.5 zips per week at a single retail location? How can someone run a retail location off of $800/mo?

  15. Bongstar420 – It’s 2.5 ounces/week for an individual, not for a store. I can see how it seems a bit confusing given how the story was written.

  16. One more state should do it. I expect them to start falling like dominoes afterward. People are seeing dollar signs. Legislators are being lobbied. Heck, they’ve even got Mitch and Rand stumping for it. This time next year, we might all be allowed to be happy, for a change.

  17. I like that Maine may reduce the harm that parasitic Prohibitionists wreak on peaceful people. The tax situation is not surprising, given that government types like to get their pound of flesh.

    Whenever there is a government “helping” people, the gun they use is not far away. Sometimes it is displayed, sometimes it just appears as a bump under their costumes, but it is always present. Always.

  18. I’m from Washington and I think it’s wrong for any state to have anything to do with a patients needs. Here we see our Dr. to get authorized. From there get what you need from dispensaries and/or grow up to 15 plants per person and up to 24 Oz. of dry usable. Can collective garden with others. Will “NOT” be changing with the new legalization. As for legalization I’m going to do a second post.

  19. The only people who could possibly come to NORML and complain about legalization would be dealers, cops or anyone else making money off the continued illegality of marijuana.

    The rest of us are tired of your bullshit. Dealers – thank you for your service, but it’s time to get a real job. Cops and prison workers – fuck off and get a real job.

    NORML – thank you for your service, and keep up the good work.

    Diane Russel and those who supported this bill – it’s about time.

  20. I think like the rest of you that going ahead is a good idea. I do find it odd, however, that the legislature does not realize that an unreasonably high tax will encourage the growth of extremely potent strains rather than less potent varieties. Would you produce whiskey or beer if the tax were the same per volume or weight of both?

  21. Marijuana Laws have screwed Americans for years. I am offended to be asked to be taxed for something that Ive served time for. Absoloutly floored. Legalize it sell it make the economy go around. Government doesnt deserve one cent. Nothing at all. If you want put the sales tax on it but a seperate tax I call SCAM!!!

  22. Marijuana should not be subject to a sin tax because some people talk shit about it! Just tax at your normal sales tax rate. It is still going to make bank for the government!

    Tax marijuana at a normal rate!!!!!

  23. The posts regarding over-taxation of marijuana hold no real water.
    This is another land mark piece of legislation and the concern is a meager $50/oz?
    Let’s take an earlier post suggesting prices for highs/mids/lows.
    Post sales tax
    highs ?$265/oz
    mids ?$160/oz
    lows ?$55/oz
    Those prices are extremely reasonable: Add that with the ease of purchasing your product in a convenience store setting and it is clearly worth the cost.
    As for those in need medicinally, they can grow it for themselves, so that point is moot.

  24. Let’s legalize it first, and worry about the details later.

    Any tax is better than keeping weed illegal. Remember, if the tax is too high, you can still get weed from your dealer. The difference is you no longer will have to worry about getting busted!

    So first things first. Make it legal, then we’ll make it affordable.

  25. “28 Democrats, 3 Republicans”

    This is why I am a Democrat. Most Republicans hate freedom.

  26. Taxing cannabis will cause the quality to have to rise and the medicinal value will be more worth the effort.

  27. Checking Colorado dispensaries the price an ounce of high quality ganja sells for $200.00. In my state the same product goes for $30.00 per gram. That would be $840.00 ($30 X 28grams) per ounce… I would rather pay a $50.00 tax (and let it go toward education funding) then pay the black market drug dealer that kind of money… I won’t smoke until its legal (or I move to Colorado). So come on Maine knock the dominos down!

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