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New England Lawmakers Preparing State Marijuana Legalization Push

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NEW ENGLAND MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION
AP

State lawmakers across New England are preparing legislation to legalize marijuana for recreational use, building on recent victories for the movement in Colorado and Washington last week.

The Marijuana Policy Project announced Wednesday that state legislators in Rhode Island and Maine, where medical marijuana has already been legalized, are set to announce bills in their respective states that would pave a path for broader legalization of the substance.

Reason reports that Rhode Island's Rep. Edith Ajello and Maine's Rep. Diane Russell will discuss their plans during a conference call with the MPP on Thursday. The MPP also reports that lawmakers in Vermont and Massachusetts intend to follow suit.

As a region, New England has been at the forefront of marijuana acceptance. Massachusetts voters passed a ballot measure legalizing medical marijuana last week, leaving New Hampshire as the last state in the region to remain in line with federal laws prohibiting the drug. New Hampshire's Republican-controlled legislature passed a bill attempting to change that earlier this year, but Democratic Gov. John Lynch vetoed the measure.

It remains to be seen exactly how Colorado and Washington will implement the new measures legalizing recreational use of marijuana in the face of federal laws that continue to consider pot to be a dangerous and illegal substance. A recent poll suggested that Americans believe the current approach of prioritizing enforcement of anti-drug laws isn't working. The survey, conducted last week, showed that 82 percent believed the country is losing the war on drugs.

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