Recently, at the State House, the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee overwhelmingly rejected LD 1380 — a bill to legalize recreational marijuana in Maine.

Republicans and Democrats joined together in the 10-3 vote against the bill. The bill will next go to the full House. Typically, the full Legislature will recognize and support the recommendation of the committees, particularly with such a lopsided vote.

However, the LD 1380 sponsor, Rep. Diane Russell of Portland, is determined to see marijuana legalized and sold in Maine communities and has vowed to take the fight to the House floor.

Lewiston lawmakers have the luxury of two informative votes if and when LD 1380 comes to the House floor. First is the aforementioned 10-3 committee vote against the bill.

However, I think the more powerful vote is from last year’s election when Lewiston voters overwhelmingly rejected the marijuana legalization referendum. By double digits, Lewiston voters said marijuana legalization was not part of the norms and values they hold for their community.

Passage of LD 1380 would go farther than last year’s referendum and put pot shops in Lewiston. Such shops would advertise and sell the brightly colored marijuana lollipops and gummy bears sold right now out in Colorado. Those shops and the increased availability of marijuana would put more of our youth and vulnerable populations at risk.

Representatives and Senators serving Lewiston should remember the statement made by their constituents as they decide on how to vote on LD 1380.

Scott Gagnon, Gray

Editor’s note: Scott Gagnon is director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana Maine.

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