Backwards Momentum for Marijuana Legalization as Maine House Overwhelmingly Rejects Legalization
In a sign of waning support, the Maine House votes 98-45 against legalizing marijuana. The messages cautioning against marijuana commercialization appear to take hold as the coalition pushing for the rejection of marijuana legalization picks up 27 votes from the prior House vote in 2013.
(AUGUSTA, ME) – Monday, the Maine House of Representatives convincingly rejected LD 1380, a measure that would have legalized recreational marijuana in Maine. The decisive 98-45 vote puts to an end the 2015 efforts to legalize marijuana. The big takeaway, however, is that momentum for marijuana legalization has clearly begun to wane. A practically identical bill in 2013, LD 1229, was narrowly voted down by the House by a vote of 71-67. This represents a pick-up of 27 votes for the coalition of Maine groups opposing marijuana legalization.
Late last month, the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee heard from many leading health and medical organizations as well as state government departments. This included opposition testimony from the Governor LePage Administration, Maine CDC, Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, Maine Public Health Association, Maine Association of Substance Abuse Programs, National Alliance on Mental Illness, and the Maine Alliance to Prevent Substance Abuse, the Maine chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Maine affiliate of Smart Approaches to Marijuana amongst many others.
The Committee also received testimony from Lewiston School Committee Chair, James Handy, to underscore that marijuana is far from inevitable. In his testimony, Mr. Handy reminded the Committee that in the 2014 election, marijuana legalization was rejected in Lewiston by double digits. Monday’s vote signals that these messages continue to take root and broaden as opposition grows.
“We are ecstatic and empowered by today’s vote,” remarks SAM Maine Director, Scott Gagnon. “This is a proud moment for our coalition. We came out in huge numbers to oppose this bill during the hearings and the House lawmakers heard us. They agreed with us that allowing commercial marijuana markets in Maine is not the right way forward for the state. It’s clear that SAM Maine’s public health messages have taken root and are resonating with most Mainers. We will take this momentum with us as we hit the road to continue to speak out about the public health and public safety threats posed by commercialized marijuana.”