Last week in cannabis news, Maine Gov. Paul LePage once again thwarted the will of the people by vetoing legislation, Michigan moved closer to legalization and Seattle leaders called for expunging marijuana convictions. Find out more in our weekly marijuana legislative roundup.
On Friday, Maine Governor Paul LePage vetoed legislation to modify and implement the recreational cannabis legalization law passed by voters in 2016. The bill would ban social-use clubs, double the state tax on cannabis sales from 10 percent to 20 percent, allow cities to “opt-in” to hosting marijuana businesses, and dedicate some revenue from marijuana taxes to public awareness and law enforcement initiatives. It would also reduce the number of plants adults can grow at home from six to three.
LePage – an outspoken critic of marijuana – vetoed a similar bill last fall, citing a desire to allow lawmakers more time to work out the details. While LePage previously justified his opposition to the present bill on the grounds that it failed to merge the state’s medical marijuana system with the new recreational system, the veto statement he offered Friday attributed the move to marijuana’s current illegality under federal law. However, it is likely the Legislature will override LePage’s veto in the coming weeks, since the bill passed both chambers with veto-proof majorities of more than two-thirds in favor.
Related Story: Senate Passes Bill To Legalize Marijuana Sales In Maine
On Thursday, a Michigan elections board announced that supporters of recreational cannabis had garnered sufficient votes to place legalization on the ballot in November. If approved, the measure would allow adults 21 and older to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow up to 12 plants at home. A 10 percent tax would be levied on marijuana sales on top of the state’s normal 6 percent sales tax. The legislation now goes to the Republican-controlled Legislature, which can either enact the measure or defer it to the November ballot.
On Friday, Seattle officials announced that the city is planning to expunge marijuana offenses made legal by the recreational cannabis legalization law approved by Washington voters in 2012. The city is hoping to remove 542 convictions for possession of small amounts of marijuana that were made between 1997, when the state legislature mandated that misdemeanor marijuana charges be prosecuted at the municipal level, and when City Attorney Pete Holmes ended such prosecutions upon taking office in 2010. The move follows similar announcements by San Francisco and San Diego.