One day after Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) urged states to take caution on legalizing marijuana, one Democratic lawmaker weighed in on his comments, saying the debate boils down to revenue.
In an interview with HuffPost Live on Tuesday, Maine state Rep. Diane Russell (D-Portland) looked past the problems with the drug war, ranging from racial disparity to youth access. She instead said the key is to how to influence those who don't consume the drug.
"There are multiple reasons for legalization," Russell said. "But if you're going to make a deal with people who don't consume this, people like me who drink bourbon ... the give to that is the revenue aspect," Russell said. "That's what people are going to say 'you know what? I'm willing to do this if there's revenue.'"
On Friday, more than 40 lawmakers signed a memo authored by Russell, encouraging marijuana legalization to be considered as an option for tax revenue. Portland, Maine voters approved the legalization of marijuana in early November, and Russell has been at the forefront of three efforts to see similar results at the state level.
“All options should be on the table,” Russell said in the memo.
In a Tuesday op-ed for the Bangor Daily News, Russell reiterated that point, saying that thanks to polls now showing a majority of Americans favoring marijuana legalization, "in short, it's time to let the people decide."
"It’s time lawmakers work together to craft a responsible policy of regulation and taxation and then allow Mainers to decide at the ballot box whether or not to legalize," Russell wrote.