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US (ME): Committee rejects bill to remove cannabis from state's criminal code

A legislative panel voted down a measure to take cannabis out of Maine’s criminal code.

The proposal from Sen. Joe Baldacci (D-Penobscot) would have removed cannabis as a scheduled drug in Maine and eliminated crimes that include the unlawful trafficking and possession of the drug. I would also have removed the rule that a person who has a certain amount of cannabis is illegally furnishing it and eliminated any mandatory minimum term of imprisonment for cannabis-related offenses, among other changes.

The bill would have also ordered the Department of Public Safety to expunge criminal convictions and civil violations related to cannabis, although there are concerns about whether such an action would be allowed under Maine’s Constitution. Maine legalized cannabis via a ballot initiative in 2016 for those 21 years of age or older. People are currently allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of the substance.

The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted 8-2 against Baldacci’s bill. Committee members said they were concerned that removing cannabis entirely from the state’s criminal code would leave Maine without any regulatory apparatus for the drug.

Read more at mainemorningstar.com

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