Voters in Maine legalized recreational cannabis last November, and now, after months of discussions in the state legislature, lawmakers are almost ready to pass regulations and start the cannabusiness licensing process. But as lawmakers work to establish rules for the newly passed legalization, Pine Tree State Governor Paul LePage said this week that he would veto any bill put in front of his desk that did not set tax rates for both recreational and medical marijuana.
According to the Mount Desert Islander, Gov. LePage spoke at a local Rotary Club meeting this week and told constituents that legislators current cannabis tax plan, to pull state funds out of the recreational market but leave the state’s medical sales tax-free, will not make it into state law books.
“Colorado has nontaxable medical marijuana and taxable recreational marijuana, and everybody is becoming a medical user. We’re making the same mistake,” Gov LePage said.
Maine lawmakers and regulators have been meeting with Colorado’s “marijuana czar” Andrew Freedman in an attempt to sort out the best practices for recreational legalization, and Gov. LePage is convinced that Colorado’s decision to treat medical marijuana like medicine would have serious negative consequences in the Northeast state.
“It is going to be devastating,” LePage said of the proposed cannabis tax plan. “You’re not going to be able to collect the tax because [recreational marijuana] is going to go underground and stay underground. There’s no good that’s going to come out of this.”
To backup his claims, LePage cited a raise in medical marijuana caregivers from 900 to 4,000 in the eight months since recreational legalization passed.
But in Colorado, the state LePage turned to in his rebuke of medical marijuana exemptions, cannabis tax revenue recently surpassed $500 million, with retailers continuing to sell upwards of $100 million in cannabis per month, with no complaints from the state’s recreational businesses or tax recipients.
Maine legislators are projected to vote on recreational cannabis regulations in the near future, but after Gov. LePage’s comments, it might be time to go back to the drawing board instead of serving up a bill they know will be shot down.