Maine’s Marijuana Retail Market is Once Again on the Move
A majority of Maine’s House of Representatives endorsed a regulatory bill for the state’s new recreational weed market, inching the state the closer to implementing its 2016 legalization referendum.
This is the Legislature’s second bid in a year to set up a commercial system for cultivation and sales despite Maine’s radically anti-weed governor Paul LePage who vetoed last year’s attempt. Thankfully, a special marijuana committee took the issue up again this year.
Having cleared its toughest political hurdle so far, The Portland Press Herald says the voting margin, 112 to 34, is such that the bill will likely withstand Governor LePage’s veto pen.
The bill sets up a 20 percent tax rate on cannabis products, gives Maine residents a priority for commercial licenses and sets health and safety standards. Buying and consuming weed at nightclubs was stripped from the bill, however.
Advocates of respecting voters’ rights (and legal weed!) contend that Tuesday’s bill is the best solution to clear up major contradictions in Maine’s marijuana market, wherein it’s legal to possess recreational weed but not to sell it.
Some Republican leaders who oppose legalization because marijuana is federally illegal were against the bill. Although several staunch opponents voted in favor of it anyway, saying that it’s better this way than to allow the black market to continue unchecked.
There were pro-marijuana activists who didn’t like that the bill would cut the number of plants a person can grow for personal use from six to three.
Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine, which wrote the referendum question, said the reduction in home grow and lack of a cultivation cap, will drive prices so low that everyday Mainers would get driven out of the business by rich growers that can ride out a glut.
If the bill continues on its current path, Mainers can expect to see the first recreational business licenses issued in the spring of 2019. This will allow recreational retailers to buy cannabis from former MMJ growers, a provision that will help them stock their shelves and get Maine’s recreational market up and running very quickly.