POLITICS
02/22/2013 12:23 pm ET | Updated Feb 22, 2013

Diane Russell, Pro-Marijuana Maine State Rep., Announces Regulation Bill, Visits Reddit Cannabis Forum

In politics there's often talk about the importance of getting to know one's constituency. Maine state Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland), took that ideal to heart Thursday when she visited a Reddit forum devoted to marijuana to chat with like-minded individuals about legalization, pizza and bourbon.

The visit to the forum "/r/trees" appears to be a well orchestrated follow-up to a Feb. 21 press conference in which Russell outlined a bill that would allow the sale and possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana for adult recreational use.

Under the proposed law, for which Russell has garnered bipartisan support in the Maine legislature, the state would regulate and tax marijuana, the Bangor Daily News notes. Speaking at the press conference, Russell called the bill a response to a national trend sparked by Washington state and Colorado, and she likened marijuana legalization to the repeal of Prohibition.

"The question of whether to legalize or not was answered, as far as history is concerned, [in] November when voters in those two states voted to allow marijuana to be taxed and regulated," Russell said.

Russell maintained that regulating and taxing marijuana in a manner similar to alcohol could rid Maine of drug dealers while granting opportunities for legal, regulated business.

"It is time we let Maine businesses earn the profits... not the drug dealers or cartels," she said.

ABC affiliate WMTW reported that some local officials are "initially opposed" to the bill. Cumberland County Sheriff Kevin Joyce told the station that regulating marijuana could be complicated, pointing out that plenty of minors still get their hands on alcohol despite age restrictions.

Russell wants the issue to be put before voters and is encouraging support of her bill through a petition that she listed on her website and mentioned in Thursday's Reddit appearance.

Russell wrote:

"We're waiting to get the final language... at which point I'll be able to ask for co-sponsors. We could use some help asking lawmakers around the state to sign on. We've got a very, VERY strong start, but the more we get folks ready to co-sponsor, the better our chances."

Maine isn't the only state that has weighed legalizing marijuana recently. A Pennsylvania bill that seeks to regulate marijuana was announced Thursday. Efforts to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes are also currently underway in Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont, according to the Daily Local.

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