Last week in marijuana news, the legislature in Maine passed a marijuana bill that is currently sitting on Gov. Paul LePage’s desk. St. Louis moved closer to allowing the sale of cannabis within the city limits. And in California, the Santa Cruz County passed a pro-marijuana law. Read all about these developments and more in The Fresh Toast’s Marijuana Legislative Roundup for Oct. 30.
On Wednesday, the Maine legislature passed a bill to substantially modify the state’s voter-approved recreational marijuana law. The measure would increase the sales tax on marijuana from 10 percent to 20 percent, require municipalities to “opt in” to the state’s legal cannabis market, and make a number of changes to the way cannabis is regulated at the state level. The bill came after months of work by a special committee tasked with implementing the legalization measure approved by voters in 2016.
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Governor Paul LePage has 10 days to either sign or veto the measure, after which the bill becomes law by default. LePage has been a vociferous critic of marijuana legalization, although he has said that he would respect the will of voters on the issue. It is considered likely that LePage will veto the legislation, after supporting a separate bill that would have delayed legalization and effectively scrapped the measure the prior week. If the governor were to veto the legislation, however, the less restrictive voter-approved legalization law would remain in effect.
Last week, legislation was introduced in the St. Louis Board of Aldermen that would legalize adult possession, sale, and cultivation of marijuana within the city limits. The bill would prohibit the city from enforcing any laws that allow “the civil or criminal punishment for the use or possession of marijuana or marijuana paraphernalia against any individual or entity,” with certain exceptions.
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The measure would allow possession of up to two ounces of cannabis, cultivation of up to 10 plants, and consumption on private property by adults 21 and older. The bill would also make it illegal for employers to refuse to hire, or to terminate the employment of any person for marijuana use. The bill is meant to address racial disparities in the enforcement of marijuana prohibition within the city. There has been little appetite for loosening marijuana laws at the state level, with Missouri only recently allowing hemp oil treatment for some children with a rare form of epilepsy.
On Tuesday, the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors passed legislation to allow the 12 medical cannabis dispensaries in unincorporated areas of the county to sell recreational marijuana beginning on January 1. While the businesses still need state recreational cannabis licensing to begin sales, the move is the first by any county or municipality in the state to approve adult marijuana sales within its jurisdiction. California has been scrambling to put a licensing and regulatory framework in place before the beginning of next year, when sales are mandated to begin under the voter-approved legalization measure.