Bill aims to use recreational cannabis tax revenue to fund Maine recovery centers

Published: Jun. 14, 2023 at 6:06 PM EDT
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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Recovery advocates gathered at the state house to support a bill seeking to utilize 12% of tax revenue from the recreational cannabis industry to fund recovery centers across Maine.

“When I think about these policies, I think about hundreds of Mainers we have lost to overdose,” Rep. Rana said.

Ambureen Rana represents part of Bangor and is the sponsor of the bill. She says it makes sense to use funding from an industry that may have contributed to the problem.

“Similar to how we tobacco revenue to support cessation, I think it is so important to use cannabis revenue to support the community in that way,” she said.

Last year, Maine saw a record number of overdoses with more than 10,000 reported and 716 deaths. Rana says many may have started with cannabis as their first drug of choice.

“Recovery community centers are not just for people who are using opioids, it is also for people that are trying to enter recovery regarding their alcohol use, regarding their cannabis use, it could also be regarding behaviors,” Rana said.

Maine currently has 19 recovery centers and one more opening in July this year. Amy Clark is on the Board of Directors for Bangor Area Recovery Network and says it is a step in the right direction, especially since it was the first recovery center in Maine.

“We really didn’t have a model, but we talked to people in recovery, we went to them and said, ‘What is it that you want?’” Clark said.

Clark says she learned people needed a place, free of judgment, where they feel supported and connected.

“We know that addiction is the opposite of connection, right? And having connection and having support is vital to be able to recover.” she said.

If approved, the bill would provide approximately $3-million in funding to the recovery centers in Maine for 2024 and up to $8-million by 2027.

For Rana, it means a trickle-down effect on the community.

“This means the opportunity to enter education, it means the opportunity to enter the work force, it means parents being more present in the kids’ lives.” Rana said.