WELLS, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- A bill is expected to go before the Maine legislature this session to legalize recreational marijuana. Tuesday, a group of people committed to substance abuse prevention in York County met with a national expert on the issue.
Kevin Sabet is a former drug policy advisor to President Obama, and is committed to finding what he calls a common sense approach to regulating marijuana. That approach does not include legalization.
It's an issue that is getting national attention, after Washington and Colorado both legalized the drug by popular vote in November.
Sabet believes that, like alcohol and tobacco, the taxes collected from the sale of marijuana would not outweigh the social costs. And he believes the greatest danger would be the perception for children and teens that marijuana is safe.
"Our legal drugs are used much more than our illegal ones," Sabet told NEWS CENTER. "They're commercialized. People profit off of them. I mean, addiction is really an incentive for profit."
Representative Diane Russell agrees that young people should be educated about the dangers of drug use. But she is working on a bill to legalize marijuana for Mainers over the age of 21. She wants to take sales out of the hands of drug dealers.
"No, marijuana is not a perfectly safe drug, it's a drug," Russell said. "But it's a heck of a lot safer than alcohol and we should be regulating it and taxing it in a way that benefits our communities in a more responsible way."
Maine already allows marijuana to be grown, sold, and used for medicinal purposes.