Lawmakers in Maine will begin trying again to legalize a commercial marijuana cultivation and retail market early in the new year, hoping to overcome opposition from the state’s governor and Republican leaders in the state House.
Maine voters approved legalizing marijuana for non-medical use in a November, 2016 vote. In January of 2017, part of that law, allowing possession of 2.5 ounces of marijuana for personal use and the growing of six plants at home, went into effect. The rest of what voters approved, setting up a retail industry and taxing the product, was put on hold until lawmakers could study how best to do it and pass a bill spelling out the particulars.
That bill was passed in October, but Maine Gov. Paul LePage vetoed the legislation in November, leaving the pot industry in limbo. LePage said the measure conflicted with federal law, among other objections. House Republicans sustained the veto.
A moratorium on commercial cultivation and retail sales remains in place at least until February, though lawmakers could extend it as they continue to grapple over the issue.
The committee that was responsible for drafting the marijuana legislation has re-filed the bill LePage vetoed with an eye toward amending it in an effort to find a compromise. Backers hope to get something worked out quickly – early in 2018, the Portland Press Herald reported last week.
Maine has allowed medical marijuana for a long time, having approved its use in 1999.