Is One State About to Legalize Pot for Kids?
Maine AG Janet Mills says there's a loophole in state's referendum
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 14, 2016 6:55 PM CDT
Maine Attorney General Janet Mills says the state's marijuana legalization referendum could make it legal for children to smoke pot.   (AP Photo/Robert F. Bukaty, File)

(Newser) – Supporters of a referendum to legalize marijuana for recreational use have touted the proposal as applying only to adults 21 and older, but it could actually legalize marijuana for everyone—even children, Maine Attorney General Janet Mills warned. The AP reports the interpretation by the state's top prosecutor, a Democrat, provided a late gift to marijuana opponents and put referendum supporters on the defensive. Scott Gagnon, who directs anti-legalization group Smart Approach to Marijuana, said the organization will have new TV and radio ads next week playing up Mills' concerns about kids and pot. "There would be nothing in Maine to prevent a young person from having marijuana. We're asking, was it purposeful, or was it just gross negligence?" he said. "If it's gross negligence, I'm not sure I want those people writing drug policy."

Referendum supporters say the language in the proposal clearly states that it would legalize marijuana only for those 21 and older, but Mills came to a different conclusion. Mills said the referendum removes existing legal language that makes possession of small amounts of marijuana a civil infraction for both adults and children. That means there would be no penalties for children who consume or smoke marijuana, she said. Scott Anderson, an attorney who represents the pro-legalization Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol, disagrees with the attorney general's interpretation and is encouraging voters to read the text of the proposal ahead of the vote. Anderson questioned why Mills didn't raise her concerns sooner.