Maine’s full legislature has passed a bill to fund the implementation of the successful 2016 marijuana legalization initiative and change the agency that will regulate marijuana for adult use.
The Senate on Thursday passed LD 243 unanimously “under the hammer,” without debate or a roll call vote, sending it to Gov. Paul LePage for final approval. The House passed it “under the hammer” on Wednesday.
LD 243 would transfer the authority to oversee adult-use marijuana from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations within the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS). The Bureau would be responsible for licensing adult-use marijuana businesses and creating and enforcing regulations. LD 243 also allocates $200,000 to the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation and $1.4 million to DAFS to implement Question 1.
“We hope Gov. LePage will give swift approval to this bill so we can begin to see some meaningful progress on establishing Maine’s adult-use marijuana program”, says David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project and campaign manager for the Yes on 1 campaign. In the meantime, the Legislature should allow Maine’s existing medical marijuana businesses to begin serving adults 21 and older. This approach was successful in Oregon, and it is now being adopted in Nevada. It would work for Maine, as well.
“Initiating adult sales in existing medical marijuana businesses would allow for a slower rollout and give regulators time to make adjustments. It would immediately generate much-needed tax revenue and provide adults with a safe way to purchase marijuana. Marijuana is a legal product now, and Mainers want it to be sold in licensed stores, not on Craigslist and Facebook.”