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Recreational cannabis products could be consumed on-site at stores under Maine bill

A Maine bill will allow people to consume cannabis and cannabis products in the store. (WGME)
A Maine bill will allow people to consume cannabis and cannabis products in the store. (WGME)
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AUGUSTA (WGME)-- Soon there could be another spot to smoke your pot.

A Maine bill would let you consume recreational marijuana or products right in the store.

If this bill passes, stores that wanted to do this would have to have a separate section for on-site consumption.

"All you can do is hope for the best. I think it would be a good thing personally," The Healing Community MEDCo cuctomer Chris Robbins said. "I think it would be good for everybody."

Customers like Chris Robbins can see the appeal of a so-called "social club."

"Come in and relax. Conversation. Talk. Enjoy each other's company while having a good smoke," Robbins said.

"If you want people not to use cannabis in parks, on sidewalks and in their vehicles, you have to give them someplace to go," The Healing Community MEDCo Owner Alex McMahan said.

The Healing Community MEDCo has a number of locations across Maine.

McMahan supports this bill and has been thinking about how this could impact his stores.

He says he's been purposely planning for it with his latest store, which is set to open in Lewiston on Wednesday.

"I see this as a common sense evolution of Maine's cannabis program," McMahan said.

Currently, Maine law only allows for cannabis use on private property and businesses are not included.

When voters approved recreational use in 2016, the original citizen initiative did include on-site consumption.

"In that citizen's initiative, there was a component for onsite consumption, social clubs. Unfortunately, that got voted away in the legislative process but it’s time to restore that," Rep. David Boyer (R-Poland) said.

People also can't smoke, vape or consume cannabis products in public places.

That includes things like ski resorts, campsites and private property, where it's restricted.

"If you think about it, tourists have no place to consume cannabis if they’re not allowed at their hotel or AirBNB to use cannabis," Boyer said. "This would solve that problem."

McMahan thinks it will help break the stigma more than anything.

"I don’t think it will necessarily lead to increased sales, because people will probably be buying the same amount whether it’s for park use, at home use or social club use," McMahan said.

While there is a bipartisan group of state representatives and senators pushing for this bill, not all lawmakers are on board.

"I think it would be a big mistake," Rep. Scott Cyrway (R-Albion) said.

Cyrway used to serve in law enforcement.

He fears marijuana is far more potent than it used to be.

"That THC level can really slow down their reflexes. So if you’re smoking at the store and then you get in your car, you’re going to be under the influence," Cyrway said.

CBS13 Reporter Mal Meyer: "How do you respond to those concerns?"
Boyer: "Sure, I mean, those are our concerns too and those concerns exist with or without social clubs."

Supporters like Boyer compare this to drinking.

"No one thinks that folks should drive under the influence of alcohol either. Yet we have bars. So we're just looking for some parody under the law," Boyer said.

If the bill is passed as is, stores that want to do this would have to get approval from their municipality and the state.

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