Maine’s Legislature has adopted a marijuana bill, but it is likely to get vetoed by Governor LePage. The state is poised to have the lowest tax on marijuana sales in the country.
The referendum law prohibits recreational marijuana businesses from opening without approval from both the state and local municipality, according to Portland Press Herald. For now, a moratorium is in place for everything except “personal-use parts” of the plant. The moratorium expires in February, but the adult-use market may still go on without approval from the state and host municipalities.
Senator Roger Katz said, “Without this bill, we go back to the referendum law. I think we can all agree that law is flawed. Over the last nine months, we found out just how flawed that law is. Going back to that, it would be chaos, confusion. We’ll be throwing oxygen on the fire of the black market. It will be the wild, wild West in Maine. How could anybody want that? Our bill, it’s not perfect, but it’s much, much better than that.”
LePage isn’t likely to sign the “ballot-box law”. He’s not supportive of legal marijuana. He refused to instruct state agencies to work with Senator Katz (and the joint select committee) to stop loopholes in regulation. LePage wants to see a more conservative approach to the Maine Legalization Act. Katz’s repeated requests for collaboration with state agencies has been denied.
Katz said, “We practically begged, but nothing.”
In the voter-approved version, the licensing authority has 9-months to have regulatory and control rules adopted. This version, however, doesn’t have a timeline requiring the state licensing authority to begin taking applications or issuing business licenses.
Those supporting Katz’s agree that there are too many loopholes in the referendum law. They’re also indicating that LePage’s administration may use those loopholes to exploit the program and further delay the rollout of the legal recreational marijuana law.
The state licensing authority is only accepting applications for legal marijuana businesses on their forms. What if they don’t make forms available?
David Boyer of Maine Marijuana Policy Project said, “What happens if there is no form? That’s just one of a million loopholes in the MLA that could be used to stop the full rollout.”
So, if licensing legal businesses doesn’t happen by March, adults will be able to continue growing their own. Maine adults, ages 21 and older, are permitted to possess 2 ½ ounces of marijuana. They can grow six plants. No sales or purchases can be made from individual to individual. The referendum law also allows an adult to give another adult permission to grow their personal use marijuana on their property. The plants have to be tagged and out of plain view.
Maine’s black market dealers will continue to make big profits and gray-market entrepreneurs will continue to reap the benefits of the loopholes in the referendum law.