Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Paul LePage demurred on the questions.
A spokeswoman for the Democrat in the gubernatorial race, U.S. Rep. Mike Michaud, said he would want to see more details of any bill that would legalize or further decriminalize marijuana in Maine. "But he is concerned that such efforts could make the drug more accessible to children and teens," Michaud's campaign spokeswoman said. "The congressman is willing to sit down to discuss the issue with advocates for the law change and with representatives from the public health and law enforcement communities."
A spokeswoman for Democrat Mike Michaud said "he is concerned that such efforts could make the drug more accessible to children and teens." Eliot Cutler, the independent in the race, said he had similar concerns, but that he believed the current prohibition on marijuana wasn't working.
Meanwhile, Republican Gov. Paul LePage demurred on the questions. His campaign staff referred the issue to the governor's communications staff in Augusta. "Gov. LePage has taken an oath to defend and uphold the Constitution and observe the laws of the state of Maine and he intends to do just that," LePage's press secretary wrote.
On its face, the strategy has merit. Both marijuana and privacy concerns raised by the National Security Agency scandals attract anti-Washington voters from liberals to libertarians.
Portland, Maine's largest city, legalized recreational marijuana overwhelmingly last year, but the state legislature has opposed measures to legalize, tax and regulate the drug. It has, however, allowed medical marijuana since 1999. "There is widespread support for more sensible drug-reform policy," says Bellows, who sells herself as a "daughter of a carpenter," raised without running water or electricity.
Two marijuana-advocacy groups have endorsed her--the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) and Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
"I think my biggest concern with legalizing marijuana is that it could send a message to our kids that drug use is OK," Eliot Cutler, an independent candidate for governor, said in a statement to the Press Herald. "That said, the current system doesn't work--it has permitted the development of a thriving, unregulated and untaxed black market in non-medicinal marijuana that is easily accessed by children and adolescents, as well as adults." Cutler said he would create a task force to look at the issue and recommend whether Maine should follow the lead of Colorado and Washington--and if so, how.
Maine politicians and political candidates largely would not commit either way on the issue. Rep. Mike Michaud said he spoke briefly with Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper about the issue and believes that "there are important lessons that Maine should consider as other states go through the process of legalization."
"Congressman Michaud continues to have real concerns about the impact of legalization on children and young adults," said a spokeswoman for Michaud's gubernatorial campaign. "The congressman and his staff have had a number of meetings with advocates, and he continues to evaluate information on legalization."
Maine politicians largely would not commit either way on the issue. Sen. Collins' office did not respond to subsequent questions about whether she would support legalization. She has avoided taking sides in statewide referendum campaigns in the past.
Collins' opponent in this year's election, meanwhile, strongly supports legalization and indicated Monday that she plans to discuss the issue on the campaign trail. "When you have the past three US presidents acknowledging marijuana use while our country locks up record numbers of primarily black and low-income young men, then something is dramatically wrong and we need change," Shenna Bellows said. "Legalization will benefit our economy and civil rights."
A spokesman for Susan Collins said: "While Sen. Collins believes that the president and Congress should be focusing like a laser on jobs and the economy, she would look for guidance from Maine's law enforcement and medical communities in the unlikely event that legalization legislation is debated by the full Senate." Collins' office did not respond to subsequent questions about whether she would support legalization in Maine. She has avoided taking sides in statewide referendum campaigns in the past.
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