A bipartisan sponsored bill was introduced Thursday for the statewide legalization of marijuana in Maine. The introduction of this bill would mean all sorts of money for the state and would keep many nonviolent offenders out of our prisons. House representatives from both parties agree that the marijuana prohibition era is over and see it as a chance for economic growth more than as a morality issue.
I think that this proposal is an intelligent step for the state of Maine to take. The possibility of community growth from the legalization could be very promising and lead to more jobs. On top of that, the idea that the state could have the opportunity to put a heavy tax on the herb is great for revenue. The taxes brought in can be pushed into public education and infrastructure.
The negative aspect of legalizing pot is of course the fear that youth would be exposed to it, leading to more usage among minors. This misconception is the same with alcohol and anything else we prohibit our children from doing.
Harsh restrictions put a stigma on substances like pot and alcohol that make them irresistible to teenagers. Instead of restricting its use and labeling it a drug, parents should be explaining that it is OK to use marijuana, just as we consume alcohol: in moderation.
The legislation will make it legal to grow it yourself and “give” it to other people, as opposed to selling. The selling will be left to the licensed merchants that will be supplied by licensed growers around the state. This could be great for communities in the north that could benefit from greenhouse production and distribution of the substance in southern Maine. This could increase revenue in towns that have been struggling out of the logging-centered economy. The profits could build these communities again and bring them back to life.
The university could benefit from legalization by researching strains of the plant, and newly graduated students that are in the plant field can have the opportunity to stay in the state. This is one of the major goals the university always strives for — to have their students stay and help Maine prosper. The research that could be done at the university using marijuana could also help understand it and use it to the best of our abilities in medicine.
As I see it, marijuana has a place in Maine. It may not be legal yet, but I see it becoming legal and changing the state for the better. Maine could do nothing but benefit from it. The people that use pot already are going to continue to use it regardless of whether it is legal or not. To legalize it you are only creating a prosperous place where people will want to live again because of the infinite opportunities that could be had. I’m not saying that after I graduate, I would stay in Maine for the pot, but I may decide to stay and help create a healthy community that benefits from a simple, harmless plant.
Antonio Addessi is a third-year psychology student with a minor in Marxism and socialism