Maine proposal shifts responsibility for rec MJ implementation

Maine lawmakers seem to be going in circles.

After residents voted to legalize adult-use marijuana last year, the legislature was tasked with passing a bill to implement a new recreational cannabis industry.

But a rewrite to the implementing legislation recently would forbid recreational marijuana businesses unless municipalities expressly approve them, basically returning the state to de facto prohibition.

That’s how attorney Amy Tchao of the Drummond Woodsum law firm explained the proposed rewrite to the Maine Municipal Association’s convention, the Portland Press Herald reported.

The original ballot measure that voters approved last fall gave municipalities the right to ban recreational marijuana businesses, but lawmakers put the program on hold while a legislative committee rewrote the law. The opt-in language was added on the last day of the committee’s work on the bill.

The final draft of the bill will be available Oct. 11.

Other states have seen marijuana programs develop that are much different than what was originally voted on.

For instance, in Massachusetts, lawmakers tinkered with what the voters approved, and in Florida, one major MMJ advocate is suing lawmakers for not allowing a key component: smokable flower.

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One comment on “Maine proposal shifts responsibility for rec MJ implementation
  1. Jody H. Lehrer, JD, MPA on

    Requiring municaplities to “opt in” in order for legalized recreational marijuana businesses to do business in a specific municipality, which is purportedly what is taking place in Maine, is precisely the opposite of what is happening in MA regarding recreational “marijuana establishments” (municipalities have to “opt out”).

    The MA legislature also “tinkered” (a couple of times!) with the recreatinal marijuana law as adopted at the ballot; first by delaying retail sale provisions by six months; then by making several additional significant changes.

    One such change imposes different requirements for limiting the number of recreatinal marujuana establishments based on whether a municipality is one of the 91 where a majority of voters DEFEATED the ballot question on legalization versus one of the 260 where most voters SUPPORTED the ballot question.

    If the former, the municipality simply adopts a zoning bylaw or ordinance imposing such limits through conventional zoning procedures; if the latter, the measure must be out before voters on a local ballot. Either way, to prohibit or otherwise limit establishments (like retailers, cultivators, or product manufacturers) the municipality must opt out.

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