Gov. LePage is pushing for a bill that would decriminalize the possession of all drugs, including cocaine, heroin, opiates, methamphetamine, and marijuana. The bill would also decriminalize the sale and distribution of those drugs.
Last week, the Maine Legislature voted to decriminalize the possession and use of all drugs, including heroin, cocaine, and prescription narcotics. The bill is set to head to the Governor’s desk for signature. It’s one of a few states to decriminalize marijuana, and the only one in the Northeast to do so.
On Wednesday, Maine became the first state in the country to decriminalize all drugs for recreational use. The concept of “decriminalization” might sound like a relatively simple idea, but it’s actually a fairly complicated topic. Essentially, it’s a move to decriminalize the possession of all drugs, including heroin and cocaine, for personal use.
Last week, Maine lawmakers passed a bill to decriminalize the possession of all drugs. The measure, LD 967, passed the Maine House of Representatives on Thursday by a 77 to 62 vote and was subsequently approved by the Senate, media reports said.
This measure means that the possession of registered drugs, including heroin, cocaine and prescription drugs, will no longer be a criminal offence. Instead, violators of these offenses are fined $100 or required to undergo addiction treatment.
Maine voters legalized marijuana for adults 21 and older in 2016, and the state began selling recreational marijuana legally last year. Possession of other controlled drugs carries a range of criminal charges and penalties, from minor misdemeanors for most prescription drugs to felonies for possession of heroin and cocaine.
The bill was introduced earlier this year by Democratic Representative Ann Perry. Lawmakers will continue to work on the bill to eliminate discrepancies in the legislation, including criminal prosecution of subsequent drug possession offenses in the Senate version of the bill.
We need to address this disorder, and enforcement will be part of that process, but enforcement is not the gateway to recovery, Perry told the House last week. It’s a road to isolation and suicide.
Maine follows Oregon’s lead
LD 967 was inspired by an initiative approved by Oregon voters last year that decriminalized all drugs for personal use. This approach is supported by advocates of criminal justice reform and harm reduction, who argue that illicit drug use should be treated as a public health problem rather than a crime.
I worked and lived as an EMT for over 20 years in a community ravaged by drug overdoses. I have seen firsthand how treating drugs as a crime causes suffering that transcends generations, Perry said at a press conference on the bill earlier this year. I have seen so many people get lost in the criminal justice system instead of getting the health care they so desperately need.
We can’t continue a war on drugs that hasn’t worked, she said.
State Rep. Charlotte Warren, also a Democrat, said several doctors who specialize in substance use disorders spoke during legislative hearings earlier this year and said the disorders are treatable and preventable, but that incarceration is not effective. Instead, they advocated treatment rather than punishment.
Eleven Maine residents die each week from overdoses, Warren told reporters. A substance use disorder is a disease. And the symptom of the disease is the possession of the substance. That’s why the House of Representatives voted to decriminalize drug possession. We need to treat the disease to save lives. What we’re doing isn’t working. We want to save lives.
Democratic Governor Janet Mills, Maine Attorney General Aaron Frey, law enforcement officials and Republican lawmakers oppose LD 967, leaving doubt about the bill’s final passage. Opponents of the bill point to the lack of restrictions on possession and prosecution of repeat offenders and refuse to support the proposal.
These people need help, and law enforcement is the best social worker to help these people, said Rep. Gary Drinkwater.
Drug trafficking reform also passed in Maine
Last week, Maine lawmakers also approved LD 1675, a bill to reform the state’s strict drug trafficking laws and eliminate disparities in penalties for possession of crack and powder cocaine. The bill passed the House of Representatives on Tuesday and the Senate the next day with a 20-15 majority. The measure will now be forwarded to Mills’ office for review.
This bill would restore integrity, fairness and clarity to our drug laws, state Senator Craig Hickman said after the vote, noting that a person in possession of two or more grams of heroin or fentanyl can be charged with drug trafficking without proof of intent to sell. This bill will put a stop to a government that has begun to play too easily with the English language, a government that redefines ordinary words to curtail the freedom of ordinary people.
Sign up for our newsletter Receive notifications of the latest cannabis news, exclusive brand offers, event updates and more!Lawmakers in Maine voted to decriminalize all drugs in a vote that could forever change the way the state deals with drug addiction and abuse. Gov. Paul LePage said allowing addicts to use heroin and other recreational drugs in a safe setting was a bad idea. He said it would make it easier for drug dealers to recruit and sell to addicts because they wouldn’t be arrested when they came in to buy drugs.. Read more about mexico legalization 2021 and let us know what you think.
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