Maine governor backtracks, signs bill delaying rec cannabis program

Maine Gov. Paul LePage reversed his initial opposition and signed a bill delaying the rollout of the state’s adult-use cannabis program by a few months.

By signing the bill Friday, LePage backtracked on an earlier vow that he wouldn’t sign the measure until state legislators provided money to his administration to start drafting regulations governing the program.

Under the new law, the earliest recreational sales could begin would be in February 2018, the Portland Press Herald reported. Some initially had expected Maine’s adult-use program to be up and running this fall.

Last November’s ballot initiative, Question 1, gave lawmakers and regulators nine months to write the rules. The new law gives agencies more time by delaying the start of rec sales until February of next year.

LePage also said he intends to transfer governance of recreational cannabis licensing and enforcement of marijuana sales from the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations, according to the newspaper.

The bill, which passed both houses unanimously, also closes a perceived loophole that some observers worried would allow those younger than 21 to purchase marijuana. And it explicitly prohibits marijuana consumption inside a running vehicle, the Press-Herald reported.

Even though Maine’s adult-use industry is expected to generate $250 million-$350 million in annual retail sales within a few years of launch, the program has gotten off to a bumpy start. Adult use narrowly passed in the November election after 50.26% of the voters approved Question 1. Opponents launched a recount effort that ultimately fizzled.

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5 comments on “Maine governor backtracks, signs bill delaying rec cannabis program
  1. Cactus Bill on

    It’s obvious that MMJ lawmaking is tough to accomplish in any political climate, and doubly so for so called “Rec” MJ (Hate that verbiage – is beer called “Recreational”?)
    Adding in Red State conservative politics makes the initiative straight (get it?) up hill.

    • Andrew Jacob Collier on

      I agree on the verbiage comment. “Adult Use” is a little better. I think we should all try to follow Steve DeAngelo’s reasoning for using the terms and concepts of “wellness.” The corny Walgreen’s slogan actually sums it up for me. “At the corner of happy and healthy.” I’m a legit medical patient for MS, but I also see the other aspects of this incredible gift from mother nature.

      • Cactus Bill on

        True that! And I wholeheartedly support enforceable restrictions designed to prevent – other than for permitted medical reasons – youths under 21 from accessing MJ.

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