According to reports, the State Legislature recently put its seal of approval on a measure (LD 243) designed to provide the funds needed to implement the recreational sector and put the job in the hands of the appropriate state agency.
On Thursday, the Senate unanimously passed the measure without so much as a debate or a roll call vote. It now head to the office of Governor Paul LePage for a signature.
If all goes according to plan, and Governor LePage graces the bill with the final approval it needs to be set in motion, the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry would relinquish its authority over the implementation of the state’s recreational marijuana industry to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations overseen by the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS).
The proposal would provide a total of $1.6 million to get Question 1 up and running.
“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,” David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.
Similar to what is happening in other legal states, Boyer believes lawmakers should pass legislation that allows people to purchase marijuana from the medical sector while the newfound recreational market is being assembled.
“The Legislature should allow Maine’s existing medical marijuana businesses to begin serving adults 21 and older,” he said. “This approach was successful in Oregon, and it is now being adopted in Nevada. It would work for Maine, as well.”
Boyer says early sales would prevent black market shenanigans and also deliver immediate tax revenue.
“It would immediately generate much-needed tax revenue and provide adults with a safe way to purchase marijuana,” he said. “Marijuana is a legal product now, and Mainers want it to be sold in licensed stores, not on Craigslist and Facebook.”
If this policy is not put into place, it will be sometime next year before adult residents can begin buying marijuana in a manner similar to beer.