Lawmakers pass marijuana regulation bill, Gov. LePage may veto
AUGUSTA (WGME) – In a late-night vote, lawmakers passed a bill addressing recreational marijuana rules.
The vote came during a one-day special session at the state house.
The bill now heads to Governor Paul LePage's desk, where he has 10 days to either sign it, veto it, or let it go into law without his signature.
The governor has threatened to veto any bill that does not delay implementation of recreational sales until 2019.
Maine voters approved recreational marijuana nearly a year ago.
Since then, the Marijuana Implementation Committee has been working on how to regulate the sale of pot.
The committee's bill would set up a state licensing system for cultivators, stores, and marijuana product manufacturers. It also establishes a 10 percent sales tax and an excise tax based on weight for wholesale sales between growers and sellers.
This bill would allow municipalities to opt out of the market, and implement their own moratoriums, beyond the statewide one which ends in February 2018.
Portland Senator Mark Dion serves on the committee. He says they worked for eight months on a bill that allows for the safe, regulated, taxed and legal sale of marijuana in Maine.
"I think it honors what the voters wanted to get done when they passed the referendum," said Dion. "It's going to give guidance to municipalities about next steps."
However, House Republican Leader Ken Fredette says the bill is far from ready. He supported the governor's bill that would have delayed implementation until 2019.
"There needs to be rule making done as part of passing this bill,” Fredette said. “And that rule making, in my opinion, is not going to be done anywhere near Feb. 1, 2018."
Senator Dion says the committee is open to changes down the line.
"I think if it's any experience, whether it's tobacco, liquor, and now marijuana, as we gain experience in the marketplace, we're going to take that information and craft law and regulations to match those experiences," said Dion.
Mainers can already grow and possess recreational marijuana, but there’s no way to legally purchase it outside of the state’s medical marijuana system.