Maine Drug Decriminalization Bill Garners Support From Medical And Religious Groups At Committee Hearing

MJ moment

A Maine House committee on Friday discussed a bill to decriminalize possession of all currently illicit drugs—and the Maine Medical Association (MMA) and a church coalition were among the organizations that testified in favor of the proposal. The legislation, LD 967, would make illicit drug possession a civil violation punishable by a $100 fine. People would be able to avoid that penalty if they submit to an “evidence-based assessment for proposed treatment for substance use disorder.” Numerous people testified before the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, with many sharing personal stories about the harms of criminalizing personal drug possession. Members heard about the long-term consequences people with drug convictions on their records face, such as lack of housing opportunities and employment. But among the most notable supporters of the legislation is the MMA, which is part of the American Medical Association (AMA). While AMA has historically opposed other reforms like legalizing marijuana, on this issue the Maine chapter’s position is aligned with pro-reform advocacy groups. “Opioid addiction is both an epidemic and a public health crisis, every bit as much an illness as cancer, diabetes or alcoholism,” MMA said in written testimony. “But instead of receiving treatment and support for their illness, patients affected by substance use disorders often find themselves treated as criminals instead of patients.” “Treatment and prevention are the pathways to defeating this problem, not stigmatizing its victims with felony convictions which will follow them for the rest of their lives, affecting their ability to find jobs, health insurance, housing, family support, and often leading to relapse into the very addiction that produced the conviction in the first place,” it continued. “By making possession of illegal drugs for personal use a civil infraction rather than a crime, LD 967 is an important step in the…

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Source : Maine Drug Decriminalization Bill Garners Support From Medical And Religious Groups At Committee Hearing

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