PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine lawmakers are returning to Augusta on Monday following Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana.
A two-thirds vote of lawmakers present Monday evening will determine whether or not the veto stands. The bill that establishes rules for the retail sale of recreational marijuana was previously approved with a veto-proof, two-thirds majority in the Senate, but not in the House.
LePage urged lawmakers to go back to the drawing board. He has cited concerns including how the Trump administration is going to treat the federal-state conflict in the proposal.
Eddie DuGay , medical marijuana consultant
LePage has also said he’d need assurances from the Trump administration before establishing a new industry and regulations. Proponents of legal cannabis, which passed a public referendum a year ago, say it’s time to put a regulatory structure in place.
“If we don’t stem the tide of all the grey market going on in the state, we keep delaying it, the grey market is going to get entrenched,” said Eddie DuGay, a medical marijuana consultant.
Nov. 3 was the last day for LePage to veto bills to regulate the sale of cannabis, and he did.
The House and Senate had approved a cannabis bill in October after it was proposed by a bipartisan legislative panel. Panel members spent months rewriting the law to allow local communities to opt-in to recreational marijuana sales. Other changes included adding an excise tax to the existing 10 percent sales tax on recreational cannabis.
House Republican Leader Rep. Kenneth Fredette, R-Newport, said on Monday that the Legislature also needs to focus on extending the current moratorium on sales of recreational marijuana. The moratorium is set to expire on Feb. 1, 2018, and Fredette said there’s no way all of the necessary rules will be in place by then.
He has tried unsuccessfully to extend the moratorium to July 1, 2018, or Jan. 1, 2019.
“Regardless of what action the Maine Legislature takes today regarding recreational marijuana, it’s simply not realistic to think that the necessary rules will be in place by February 1,” Fredette said. “The Legislature needs to do the responsible thing and extend this moratorium today or as soon as we return for the new session beginning in January.”
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