By Marina Villeneuve
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Senate on Wednesday accepted a invoice that may ultimately permit authorized marijuana gross sales within the state, setting the stage for lawmakers to have sufficient help to avert a possible veto by Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
The Senate backed the brand new compromise laws 24-10. The laws had been held up by politics since Maine voters referred to as for the legalization of retail pot gross sales in November 2016. Lawmakers and lobbyists have been making an attempt to hammer out a deal ever since.
If the newest compromise turns into regulation, state regulators shall be tasked with drawing up guidelines to permit pot gross sales doubtless by 2019 or 2020.
Republican Sen. Roger Katz stated the invoice would permit municipalities to opt-in and permit pot gross sales, whereas offering some tax revenues for regulation enforcement and public consciousness campaigns.
“You’re deciding between two bills: this bill and the original marijuana legalization act” handed by voters, Katz stated.
The voter-approved regulation created a 10 % gross sales tax on retail marijuana. The new invoice additionally would require rising amenities to pay an excise tax of $335 per pound of mature marijuana crops, in addition to different new charges.
The invoice handed the House on Tuesday regardless of an uphill battle. Republican House Leader and gubernatorial candidate Ken Fredette opposed the legalization, partially as a result of marijuana stays unlawful on the federal degree.
Some pro-marijuana activists additionally didn’t like that it might minimize the variety of crops an individual can develop for private use from six to 3. They additionally voiced considerations concerning the revised tax construction.
Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a gaggle that campaigned towards legalization, stated that the brand new compromise is workable as a result of it bans marijuana social golf equipment, retains youngsters from getting into marijuana retailers and imposes stronger limits on residence rising. But the group nonetheless thinks legalization is a nasty concept, stated its Maine chair, Scott Gagnon.
Republican Sen. Scott Cyrway additionally warned supporters that permitting retail pot gross sales would normalize marijuana use.
“It’s going to be on your clothes,” he stated
But this week’s votes present there’s political will to move a invoice that may survive a veto from LePage, who opposes legalization and has killed comparable laws up to now. Lawmakers wanted a two-thirds majority in each chambers to move an override of a earlier veto in November and fell nicely brief. But Tuesday’s House vote handed by a rely of 112-34, which is about 77 %.
The invoice gained approval from a legislative committee earlier. It now wants one other spherical of legislative motion within the House and Senate.
The passage of the legalization by voters means it’s already authorized for residents to develop and present their very own marijuana in Maine. Supporters of the newest compromise say the authorized limbo surrounding marijuana is making a grey market that lawmakers should tackle.