Maine’s Governor Wants to Delay Retail Pot Sales Until 2019

Voters want dispensaries but Maine’s governor wants to delay retail pot sales until at least January of 2019.
Maine's Governor Wants to Delay Retail Pot Sales Until 2019
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Maine residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana, but they’re still waiting for the law to take effect. Now, Maine’s governor wants to delay retail pot sales until 2019. He believes the current law is flawed and lawmakers haven’t been given enough time to grasp the details.

Why Wait on Retail Weed?

House Minority Leader Ken Fredette is sponsoring a new moratorium bill on behalf of Governor Paul LePage. Fredette believes that both the law that was passed and an upcoming bill that will be taken up next week need to be fixed. However, the adjustments that need to be made will take time.

“This option provides legislators with the opportunity to deal with this issue during the regular legislative session which starts in January, rather than having a straight up or down vote on the bill put forward by the committee,” Fredette said in a written statement.

LePage along with the Legislature enacted LD 88, which delayed the implementation of certain parts of the new cannabis laws until February of 2018. Now, he wants even more time.

The current implementation bill took three months of planning by a special Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee. However, it did come with flaws. A flaw in the original bill would have made marijuana possession legal for minors.

Delay Receives Backlash

If Maine’s governor wants to delay retail pot sales, he’ll have to go through proponents of the bill. They claim the delay is allowing black markets to thrive while Maine towns.

After a preliminary text was circulated to lawmakers last Friday, Sen. Roger Katz, co-chair of the committee, told Bangor Daily News that he has been adamant when educating lawmakers on the details of the proposal. However, they still weren’t able to put together a set of rules to make the bill happen.

“We wish the administration had been more involved in this process,” said Katz. “We’ve spent a lot of time to put together a summary and talking points so people know what’s going to be voted on.”

The delay would call for a long rulemaking process by the executive branch, which would then have to be approved by the legislature. That means the earliest Maine could see full implementation of recreational cannabis is 2019.

“By not taking action and not responsibly writing the rules to get this up and going, the black market just perpetuates,” said Rep. Teresa Pierce (D-Falmouth), who also co-chairs the marijuana committee. “Marijuana stays in our schoolyards, it stays being sold on the street corner. That’s not the right way to keep people safe and healthy.”

The bill was recommended for passage by a 15-2 committee vote.

Final Hit: Maine’s Governor Wants to Delay Retail Pot Sales

However, the bill is still facing opposition from Fredette and LePage who have the influence to kill the bill completely. If Fredette receives the support of House Republicans, as he usually does, the bill could be vetoed.

It seems like Maine’s governor wants to delay retail pot sales for as long as possible. The only way to override a veto is with two-thirds support from the legislature. If the bill received that support now, they could trigger the rulemaking process as soon as the legislature adjourns next week’s special session.

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