Law Enforcement in Maine Unprepared for Legal Marijuana, Police Chiefs Say

Article by Gillian Graham, Portland Press Herald

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Maine law enforcement is unprepared to deal with a legal marijuana market that could negatively affect youth and communities, a group of Maine police chiefs said Friday.

The Maine Association of Chiefs of Police came out strong against a marijuana legalization proposal during a news conference following the association’s annual fall meeting in Freeport. The association also announced it will launch a statewide education campaign about “the dangers of this poorly written bill and the problems of legalization,” said Falmouth Chief Ed Tolan, president of the association.

“Law enforcement and this state are not ready to manage the problems associated with the legalization of recreational marijuana,” Tolan said. “This plan will increase access to a harmful and addictive illegal drug, jeopardizing the healthy development of young people, and is not a smart plan for Maine.”

The legalization proposal – Question 1 on the November ballot – would set up a recreational use market for adults 21 and older. If the referendum is approved, adults would be allowed to possess up to 2 1/5 ounces of marijuana and six flowering plants. Marijuana sales at stores and social clubs licensed by the state and approved by municipalities would pay a 10 percent sales tax.

Recreational marijuana is legal in Washington state, Colorado, Alaska, Oregon and the District of Columbia. California, Arizona, Nevada and Massachusetts also will have legalization votes in November.

Tolan, who stood with about 30 other chiefs of police from across the state, said Colorado and Washington have seen increases in the use of marijuana, traffic fatalities and children ingesting medical marijuana products. He said the legalization push is ill-timed as the state deals with a heroin epidemic that is leading to a record number of fatal overdoses.

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