Group Unveils Marijuana Legalization Plan

A group that wants to legalize recreational marijuana is beginning its push to put the measure before Maine voters in 2016

Maine voters may have to choose between two competing marijuana legalization ballot measures in 2016.

Both plans favor legal pot for everyone 21 and over, but they differ on what the business models would look like.

Maine's newest pro-pot PAC launched its campaign Wednesday at the state capitol, waving signs that read "More Jobs Less Taxes" and "Rural Maine Economic Revival."

"Our plan will be for Mainers, by Mainers and will keep the money in this state!" said Paul McCarrier, Legalize Maine President.

The proposal would allow Mainers 21 and over to possess up to 2.5 oz, allow Mainers to grow up to 6 flowering plants and 12 immature plants, and allow for social clubs where recreational marijuana could be consumed.

Marijuana would be taxed at 8 percent and require 75 percent of cultivation licenses to go to small grow operations.

McCarrier says its a better alternative to the plan the Marijuana Policy Project hopes to put before voters.

"We are not interested in being subjugated to MPP and their DC policies. These will be competing measures and we will win."

MPP's Maine Political Director, David Boyer, says he hopes the two groups will work together to craft one proposal.

If not, he says he believes voters will support MPP's plan because of their proven track record.

"We've won across the country in Alaska and Colorado and we'll do it again here in Maine in 2016," said Boyer.

Watching all this closely are Maine's 1500 Medical Marijuana Caregivers who are concerned that legalization, done incorrectly, could put them out of business and jeopardize the health of their patients.

"We can't allow Big Pharma or Big Tobacco to come in and take over," said Catherine Lewis, a Medical Marijuana Educator. "We must protect the caregivers and their patients."

Assuming both groups get the necessary signatures to put their proposals on the ballot, There's no guarantee Mainers would say yes to either plan.

Earlier this month, voters weighed in on two local pot measures. While South Portland residents said yes to legalization, Lewiston, Maine's 2nd largest city, voted the measure down.

Scott Gagnon, with "Smart Approach to Marijuana" says his group will continue to talk to voters about the public health risks associated with pot and the potential economic costs

"We'll show the flip side," said Gagnon. "How does it negatively impact the economy? We'll talk about about decreased worker productivity, kids not joining the work force and health care costs."

So voters may have a lot to consider in 2016, not just if they want to legalize marijuana, but who should grow it and how.

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