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 and sets health and safety standards.
The bill faces further action in both chambers of the Legislature, but if Tuesday’s 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 say it is the best possible solution to clear up a gray marijuana market, where it’s legal to possess recreational marijuana but not to sell it. Rep. Teresa Pierce, D-Falmouth, who co-chaired the marijuana committee, said “the status quo just isn’t what we should be doing.”
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