This bill would make possession of small amounts of certain drugs a civil, rather than criminal, violation. When a person has a criminal record because of minor drug crimes, it creates serious barriers to housing, employment and other basic necessities. Removing criminal penalties for possessing small amounts of drugs will allow individuals to meet their basic needs and help them thrive on their own terms.
LD 967: An Act To Make Possession of Scheduled Drugs for Personal Use a Civil Penalty
1. Talking Points Supporting LD 967
These talking points are meant as guidlines for you to contact your legislators, write testimony or write letters to the editor in your local newspaper. They can also be useful if you want to have conversations about this topic with your family and friends. You don't have to hit on every point - you can choose the ones that resonate most with you.
If you don't know who your state represetnative or state senator is, you can find out here.
Check out our advocacy tools for tips on communicating your message.
Why support LD 967?
- Maine recorded its highest number of overdose deaths last year. More than 500 people died.
- Decades of experience have shown we cannot arrest and punish our way out of substance use and overdose deaths.
- We need to change our drug laws to save lives.
- We need a humane and public health-informed response to ensure people stay alive and have the best opportunity to lead thriving lives.
- That’s why I support LD 967, which would remove criminal penalties for minor drug possession and offer a pathway to treatment.
- The bill is in committee, but because things are moving fast, I want you to keep an eye on this bill and know how important it is to me. I hope you will support LD 967 when it comes up for a floor vote. (Use this point only if you're contacting your legislator)
Arrests and a criminal record harm people with substance use disorder
- Repeated arrests and a criminal record create barriers to the necessities of life, such as housing and employment.
- Most landlords conduct criminal background checks and can deny housing based on a criminal conviction.
- Job seekers with a criminal record are significantly less likely to find employment.
- Criminal consequences and stigma make people with substance use disorder less likely to seek help.
Arrests and a criminal record harm people in recovery
Once people have a criminal record, it becomes harder for them to access housing, employment and the other essentials they need to live healthy lives and maintain long-term recovery.
Incarceration for substance use harms families
- Separating a parent or family member through incarceration does lasting, irreparable harm to their loved ones.
- The children of incarcerated parents are more likely to experience worse health outcomes – including depression, anxiety and substance abuse disorder – and eventually to be incarcerated themselves.
The ACLU of Maine submitted testimony on Friday, April 30, 2021, in support of LD 967. It read, in part:
"The ACLU of Maine has long advocated for drug policy reform and we strongly support this initiative, that would connect people who possess a personaluse amount of drugs with potential treatment instead of burdening them with a criminal charge, conviction or record. This bill would move our drug policy away from incarceration and punishment and toward a public-health informed model, one that is centered on seeing the whole person, one that offers people care, compassion and grace."
Read the full testimony here.