As Public Hearings Approach, Marijuana Legalization Brings Debates 

Maine sheriffs are speaking out against a proposal that would legalize marijuana.A bill that’s about to be considered by lawmakers would legalize, tax and regulate pot like alcohol in Maine.The Maine Sheriff’s Association says marijuana is more potent now than ever and legalizing it to generate revenue is a bad idea.Kennebec County Sheriff Randall Liberty says bills to legalize pot for recreational use send the wrong message to kids. “They began using marijuana because it was fun. Then, 5 or 10 years later they have a long history of drug use, breaking the law, time in jail and now are focusing every ounce of their being trying to stay clean sober and on the right side of the law.”The sponsor of the bill, Portland Democratic Representative, Diane Russel disagrees. She says the way to keep marijuana away from kids is by taking the power away from drug dealers. “When was the last time you heard of a drug dealer carding a kid? That’s the question that needs to be asked. The issue of a gateway drug, it’s not the gateway drug. Marijuana is not the gateway. It’s the drug dealer. Let’s break the chain between the drug dealer and our children and I think that’s an effective way to reduce access to marijuana for our young folks.”Public hearings on the proposal to legalize marijuana are scheduled for Friday.