Ever since Colorado pulled the plug on its idea of allowing public marijuana consumption in designated areas, lawmakers in Maine have been looking to use the retreat as an excuse to do the same.
According to the Portland Press Herald, there are concerns with the part of the state's legal marijuana law that allows for the creation of social pot clubs. Lawmakers are now toying with the idea of postponing the licensing of these types of operations until they can be certain that there no longer exists the threat of federal interference. However, pot advocates argue that if the state doesn’t take action, these clubs will continue to emerge without the proper regulation – giving power to the grey market rather than the legal trade.
When Maine voters approved marijuana legalization in the election last November, the initiative came with a provision that allows the existence of tavern-like social pot clubs for adults 21 and over.
However, Maine never once considered that it could be the first in the nation to launch a retail marijuana market that legitimizes these kinds of operations. This realization has apparently created a panic in some lawmakers, who are now worried about with how they will control the various issues that could arise from this aspect of legal pot, including stoned driving.
“In almost every other aspect of (legalization), we have the benefit of seeing the experiences of other states. And we don’t here,” said Senator Roger Katz. “Maine wants to be No. 1 in lots of things, but being the first state in the country to have essentially bars for marijuana isn’t one of them, in my opinion.”
Many of the state’s legislative forces believe they should hold off on implementing a policy that allows the licensing of social pot clubs until a later date. Because along with the uncertainty in regards to the Trump administration, there is also anxiety about over how the state will legalize cannabis clubs and still adhere to Maine’s smoking ban, which makes it illegal to smoke in places like bars and restaurants.
Colorado recently experienced a similar problem. Lawmakers there pushed a bill that would have allowed social pot use, but Governor Hickenlooper refused to give it his support as long as it had anything to do with public smoking. The concept eventually became so watered down that the bill’s supporters were given no choice but to throw their hands up and walk away from the table.
So far, no state with legal marijuana on the books has been able to reach an agreement on the concept of social pot use.