Maine just got a lot closer to allowing recreational weed. Both the House (112-34) and Senate (24-10) passed a bill that would regulate marijuana sales and overhaul the Marijuana Legalization Act referendum that voters approved in November 2016.
According to Bangor Daily News, “The legislation sets an effective 20 percent tax rate on marijuana products, gives Maine residents a priority for commercial licenses and sets health and safety standards. It also reduces the number of flowering plants a person can posses from six in the version of the bill that failed after a gubernatorial veto last year to three. Lawmakers have said that change was what has pulled more support from House Republicans who sustained the veto last year.
Related Story: What To Expect From Maine’s Recreational Marijuana Market
The bill is now in the hands of Governor Paul LePage, who opposes the law, however, the House and Senate votes are enough to override a potential veto showdown.
Says Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, “If somehow this bill fails, the cheers you will hear are the people who are involved in the illicit gray market, who don’t want licenses … and don’t want to pay taxes.”
Sen. Scott Cyrway, R-Benton, a retired police officer, voted against the bill, because he still believes that the state’s children will be “in harm’s way,” saying, “This is a Schedule 1 drug, which is the same category as heroin and cocaine. Is it okay to say that heroin can be in your household?”
Bangor Daily News reports that if the law passes, it could be 2020 before the first marijuana retail shop opens. And that LePage vetoed a similar bill in 2017 and “has opposed new marijuana legalization laws, questioning whether it conflicts with federal prohibitions and saying his administration would have to issue rules governing the commercial system.”
It’s also worth nothing that LePage leaves office in early 2019, which means his successor will likely be in charge of the state’s new marijuana landscape.