Maine Governor Vetoes Marijuana Regulation Bill, Advocates Urging Legislative Override


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On Friday, Maine Gov. Paul LePage followed through on threats to veto legislation that would have started the process of implementing a regulated marijuana market that Maine voters called for when they approved Question 1 in 2016. The bill, which was supported overwhelmingly in the House and Senate, would have created rules for cultivation, processing, and retail establishments, as well as set tax rates for adult-use marijuana and delay marijuana social consumption lounges until summer 2019.

LD 1650 was the product of nearly seven months of transparent deliberations in the legislature that included input from a variety of stakeholders and concerned residents. Gov. LePage and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) attempted to circumvent this legislation by introducing a bill to officially delay marijuana retail sales until 2019, but it was defeated in late October. Read the rest of this entry »

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Maine Legislature Approves Marijuana Implementation Bill


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Maine lawmakers approved a bill late Monday that would establish regulations for the legal marijuana market, with the House voting 81-50 and the Senate voting 22-9 before both chambers passed the measure in an “under the hammer” or unanimous vote. This omnibus bill, LD 1650, was the culmination of nearly seven months of work by the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee. The bill creates the rules for licensing and regulating marijuana producers, processors, and retail establishments; sets the tax rates for adult-use marijuana; and will delay marijuana consumption social clubs until the summer of 2019.

“We commend the legislature for supporting the will of the people by passing this bill to implement a regulated marijuana market without further delay,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project. “This bill was created transparently and inclusively, and while it may not be perfect, it essentially does what Maine voters wanted when they approved Question 1 last year. It is time to start working toward that goal of getting the marijuana market out of the hands of criminals and under the control of the state and legitimate businesses.”

Last week, Gov. Paul LePage and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) announced legislation that would further delay legal marijuana sales and cultivation until 2019 — three years after voters approved Question 1, which made marijuana legal for adults and regulated similarly to alcohol. This moratorium bill was defeated in the legislature on Monday. Gov. LePage has also threatened to veto the implementation bill, but MPP will continue working to ensure that the voter initiative is rolled out in a timely manner.

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Maine Regulation Bills Progressing


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Since the formation of the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation in Maine, a few bills have been progressing steadily.

The first bill is LD 243, which would transfer the authority to oversee adult-use marijuana from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations within the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS). The Bureau would be responsible for licensing adult-use marijuana businesses, in addition to creating and enforcing regulations. LD 243 also allocates $200,000 to the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation and $1.4 million to DAFS to implement Question 1. The bill is now sitting on the Appropriations table. Once appropriated, it will go to the governor’s desk for his signature.

The second bill they have been working on is LR 2391, which would create a framework for retail marijuana testing facilities. By setting up testing facilities first, Maine would hopefully avoid regulatory bottlenecks experienced in other states. Mandated marijuana testing means that enough laboratories are needed to test all the marijuana that will be sold in Maine. LR 2391 is on track to be passed before the Legislature adjourns today.

The Joint Select Committee will continue to meet in the summer and fall, after the Legislature adjourns. We will be working closely with the committee to make sure Maine’s adult-use marijuana program is set up swiftly and responsibly.

To receive updates directly from the committee, please sign up here.

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Vermont House Judiciary Hearings on Marijuana Bill to Begin This Week


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The Vermont House Judiciary Committee will begin holding hearings this week on H. 170, a bill that would legalize possession and limited home cultivation of marijuana for adults 21 and older. This bill is sponsored by the committee’s chairman, vice-chair, and ranking Republican, and its prospects appear to be bright: Vermont Public Radio reported on Friday that the House “appears more receptive” to legalization in 2017, and Governor Phil Scott is “willing to consider the House plan.”

Although this bill would not legalize and regulate marijuana sales in Vermont, it still represents a very significant development.

Last week, Maine became the second New England state — following Massachusetts — where adults are no longer punished for possessing small amounts of marijuana or a limited number of plants. Now that marijuana is legal in two other New England states, there is no reason whatsoever for Vermont to continue punishing adults for choosing to use a substance that is less harmful than alcohol.

If you are a Vermont resident, please contact your lawmakers and tell them to support this sensible legislation.

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Maine Legalization Takes Effect


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A voter-approved initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine officially took effect Monday, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana.

Under Question 1, which voters approved in November and Gov. Paul LePage certified on December 31, adults 21 years of age and older can legally possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana, grow up to six flowering marijuana plants and 12 non-flowering plants, and possess the marijuana harvested from those plants inside their residence. It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public and to drive while impaired by marijuana. The law will not affect employers’ drug-testing policies or their rights to prohibit marijuana use by employees.

The legislature is in the process of establishing a regulated system of marijuana cultivation and sales, which is currently scheduled to be up and running by February 1, 2018.

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Maine Governor Signs Question 1, Making Marijuana Legal for Adults on January 30


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After recounting 30% of the votes for Question 1 in Maine last month, opponents of marijuana policy reform dropped their challenge, allowing the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol move to the Governor’s desk. On New Year’s Eve, Gov. LePage signed Question 1 into law.

Portland Press Herald reports:

LePage confirmed the proclamation Tuesday on a talk show on WVOM radio in Bangor. But he also called on the Legislature to place a moratorium on the sale of marijuana until lawmakers could work out all the details, including providing funding to set up a regulatory framework for legal marijuana.

Under the new law, adults over age 21 will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or grow up to six plants. The law goes into effect on Jan. 30, which is 30 days after LePage issued the proclamation on Saturday.

Commercial sale of the drug would be regulated by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Ballot question opponents had requested a recount of the measure, which was approved by a 4,000-vote margin but the recount by the Secretary of State’s Office was ended in December after it appeared there would be no significant change in the results.

LePage said Tuesday he needs the Legislature to provide funding to the agriculture department in order for him to move forward with establishing an agency to regulate the sale of marijuana in Maine.

Advocates are urging the legislature to begin implementation immediately and not consider a moratorium until after they have had a chance to establish regulations.

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Maine Initiative Recount Wasting Time and Taxpayer Money


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Last week, the group opposing the successful initiative to make marijuana legal in Maine moved forward with a recount, despite the cost to the taxpayer and the very slim chances of overturning Question 1.yes1

“We respectfully ask the No on 1 Campaign to follow the lead of the No on 2 Campaign and withdraw their recount request,” said David Boyer, Campaign Manager for the Yes on 1 Campaign. “There is no evidence that a recount would change the result of Question 1. At the same time, $500,000 would be wasted on the process of recounting ballots. That’s half a million taxpayer dollars that should be spent on heating homes and funding schools.”

The most recent statewide recount in Maine was the 2010 Oxford Casino initiative, when the opposition campaign demanded a recount. The Yes campaign won the original vote by 4,723 votes, and after roughly 20% of the recount was complete, the margin of victory actually increased.

Not satisfied with simply wasting taxpayer money, the prohibitionists couldn’t even be bothered to show up to the first day of counting with the legally required number of people to count the votes!

David Boyer, campaign manager for Yes on 1, said volunteers with his campaign pitched in to count for the “No” side to keep the process going on Monday and Tuesday.

“That is, quite frankly, silly. The whole point is to ensure the integrity of the vote and they can’t be bothered to do that,” he said. “What are we doing here?”

Boyer said the No on 1 campaign’s “lack of organization is costing taxpayers more money because it’s going slower.”

 

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Four States End Marijuana Prohibition


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On Election Day, voters in California, Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada declared an end to the war on marijuana in their states by approving initiatives to regulate marijuana similarly to alcohol for adults. This historic event was by far the biggest victory for drug policy reform to date, and will help pave the way for progress around the country.recreational

There are now eight states where marijuana is legal for adults to possess and where cultivation and retail sales are regulated and taxed. Marijuana possession and cultivation are legal in the District of Columbia, but Congress has prevented the city from regulating the non-medical marijuana industry.

This means that marijuana is legal for 66.5 million Americans, or about 21% of the population.

Unfortunately, a similar initiative in Arizona is trailing while the final votes are being counted, but advocates are already preparing to continue the fight in the legislature and possibly at the ballot in coming years.

Support for ending marijuana prohibition is increasing across the nation, according to recent polls. Marijuana initiatives out-performed a number of successful politicians in some states as well. During President-elect Trump’s campaign, he voiced support for leaving marijuana policy up to the states. Advocates are hopeful that the next administration will support the will of the people and continue the federal policy of non-interference until Congress is able to pass meaningful marijuana policy reform.

 

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Election Day Voter Guides


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Today is the day! This is the biggest election in marijuana policy reform history, but even if you can’t vote on a legalization or medical marijuana ballot initiative today, you could play an important part to make future progress possible in your state.logo-mpp-286-mpp-and-we-change-laws

Before you vote, please check out MPP’s voter guides if you live in the following places:

Delaware

District of Columbia

Illinois

Nebraska

New Hampshire

Pennsylvania

South Carolina

Vermont

And don’t forget to tell your friends in Arizona, Arkansas, California, FloridaMaine, Massachusetts, MontanaNevada, and North Dakota to vote YES on their respective marijuana initiatives!

 

 

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Former Maine Sheriff Supports Question 1 in New TV Ad


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The campaign in support of Question 1, the initiative to regulate and tax marijuana in Maine, held a news conference  this week to announce its final push before the election, including the launch of its first TV ad.

The ad features former Cumberland County Sheriff Mark Dion, who spent 32 years in law enforcement and understands as well as anyone why it is time to end marijuana prohibition. Watch the ad below.

 

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