It was a fairly quiet holiday week on the legislative front, but there were some developments in several states. Maine’s governor vetoed another medical marijuana reform bill, and a number of important changes took effect on July 1 in other states, including the start of recreational sales in Massachusetts, marijuana legalization taking effect in Vermont, and a much stricter regulatory system for cannabis in California. Find out more in our weekly legislative roundup!
On Friday, Governor Paul LePage vetoed legislation to reform Maine’s medical marijuana system. The most notable change in the bill would have allowed doctors to prescribe cannabis for any ailment they believe could be treated by the plant. The move was expected given LePage’s strident opposition to marijuana reform. The bill will now go back to the legislature for veto consideration.
On July 1, the official start of recreational marijuana sales in Massachusetts passed without any operational cannabis retailers opening their doors in the entire state. The delay has been caused by a combination of factors, most prominent of which is the lack of necessary regulations at the municipal level. The state’s recreational cannabis law requires that marijuana businesses first obtain a permit and “host community agreement” from local authorities before they may apply for a state license. However, many municipalities still do not have the necessary zoning regulations in place to begin granting permits.
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This the latest in a long series of delays for the state’s recreational cannabis program, which was passed by voters in 2016. Since that time, lawmakers have repeatedly pushed back the start date to provide more time to draw up an implementation bill, create a regulatory framework, and get the licensing system up and running on the local and state levels. So far, only two state licenses have been granted, one to a relater and one to a grower. They are expected to begin operating within the coming weeks.
On July 1, Vermont’s recreational cannabis law took effect. The legislation, which was signed into law in January, allows adults 21 and older to possess up to one ounce of cannabis and grow up to six plants at home, with a limit of two mature plants and six immature seedlings per household. Cannabis sales and public consumption remain prohibited.
On July 1, a new set of recreational cannabis regulations took effect in California. While the prior emergency regulations were largely left intact, the new rules demand a much more stringent testing and safety regime. Retailers had fought hard against the July 1 date, which would force them to throw away any noncompliant product that they had been unable to sell.