Maine Lawmakers Advance Drug Decriminalization Bill To House Floor With Conflicting Recommendations

MJ moment

A joint Maine House and Senate committee on Tuesday advanced a bill to broadly decriminalize possession of illicit drugs and another measure to reform the state’s drug trafficking laws—but the panel’s members were split on how the legislature should handle the decriminalization proposal going forward. The first piece of legislation, LD 967, would make illicit drug possession a civil violation punishable by a fine of up to $100. People would be able to avoid that penalty if they submit to an “evidence-based assessment for proposed treatment for substance use disorder.” The Joint Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee, which first heard testimony on the proposal late last month, was split on the legislation. There was talk of a potential compromise during an earlier work session on Monday, but that didn’t happen—and an initial vote to pass the bill failed 5-6. The committee ending up issuing three separate reports with differing recommendations on how the legislation should be handled on the House floor, where it heads next. Two Democratic senators who were among the initial no votes submitted a report recommending that the legislature should pass the measure—but it should be revised. They want to make it so a second possession offense would mandate the assessment in addition to the fine. Third and subsequent offenses should be criminal misdemeanors, they argued. The Republican members of the panel issued a report saying the bill should not be passed. “We are losing 11 people a week” from drug overdoses, Rep. Charlotte Warren (D) said at the hearing in arguing in favor of decriminalization. “I feel personally that it’s time for us to make a change, and try to start saving lives. What we are doing is not saving lives.” One of the most surprising supporters of the legislation is the Maine Medical Association—a…

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Source : Maine Lawmakers Advance Drug Decriminalization Bill To House Floor With Conflicting Recommendations

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