Last week in cannabis legalization news, Maine lawmakers approved legislation to implement cannabis regulations, but the measure appears headed for a veto from Gov. Paul LePage. In Alabama, penalties may be reduced for simple possession. And in West Virginia, there was some good news for medical marijuana patients. Find out about that more in our weekly marijuana legislative roundup.
On Friday, the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee approved legislation to implement the cannabis legalization law approved by Maine voters in 2016. The Committee had voted earlier in the week to remove social-use cannabis licensing from the bill. Cannabis lounges are explicitly legalized under the voter-approved Marijuana Legalization Act and would have been allowed under an earlier version of the bill vetoed by Governor Paul LePage last year.
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The committee also voted to strike a measure that would have shared revenue from cannabis taxes with localities that host retail or cultivation facilities. If enacted, the bill will impose a 21.5 percent tax on marijuana sales. LePage, an outspoken critic of marijuana legalization, is likely to veto the bill once again, which will require a two-thirds vote of the Legislature to override. It is expected to go before a vote of the full Legislature in the coming weeks.
On Wednesday, the Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee voted 6-4 in favor of legislation to reduce the penalty for possession of small amounts of marijuana in the state.
If enacted, the bill would reduce possession of one ounce or less of cannabis from a misdemeanor to a civil violation punishable by a fine of up to $250. The bill faces an uncertain future in the state Senate, where opposition to marijuana remains strong.
On Tuesday, the West Virginia medical cannabis board voted to recommend allowing medical marijuana patients to buy and consume smokable forms of the plant. The panel will also recommend increasing or eliminating caps placed on the number of licensed cultivation facilities.
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The board did not recommend adding to the list of conditions eligible for medical cannabis, or allowing patients to grow cannabis at home. The legislature will decide whether to approve the changes to the state’s medical marijuana law in the coming weeks.