Crown Politics

Maine takes a big step toward retail marijuana sales

AUGUSTA, Maine — A supermajority of the Maine House of Representatives endorsed a regulatory bill for the state’s new recreational marijuana market Tuesday, bringing the state the closest it has been to implementing a 2016 legalization referendum.

It’s the Legislature’s second bid in a year to set up a commercial system for marijuana cultivation and sales. Gov. Paul LePage vetoed last year’s attempt to implement a regulatory system, and a special marijuana committee returned to the issue in 2018.

On Tuesday, the Democratic-led House voted 112-34 to back a new bill from that panel. It sets an effective 20 percent tax rate on marijuana products, gives Maine residents a priority for commercial licenses, puts the Department of Administrative and Financial Services in charge of Maine’s recreational and medical marijuana systems, and sets safety standards.

The bill faces further action in both chambers of the Legislature, but if that margin holds there is a good chance the new bill could withstand a veto from the Republican governor. However, 16 Democrats and 15 Republicans — some pro-marijuana and others LePage allies — opposed it.

Backers of the bill say it is the best possible legislative solution to clear up a gray marijuana market, where it’s legal to possess recreational marijuana but not to sell it.

The Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “Maine takes a big step toward retail marijuana sales,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Michael Shepherd, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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