The State of Maine is now only a signature away from fully regulating recreational marijuana sales. The state legislature passed the bill on Thursday, just prior to the summer recess.
A spokesperson for Governor Janet Mills told a leading news agency that the Governor would sign the bill in the next few days, also hinting that the stores selling adult-use marijuana could open their doors to customers by 2020.
Maine had approved recreational marijuana in 2016 via a referendum. However, the journey since then has been marked by confusion, delays and conflict of interests. Paul LePage, the then state Governor defied voters and remained adamant in his opposition. He refused to sign a bill aimed at legalizing recreational pot in November 2017, saying he remained “concerned about expanded legalization of marijuana in the state.”
In his veto letter, LePage wrote about how Maine was going through a drug epidemic that claimed more than one life each day. “Legalizing a drug that is still federally illegal may have unintended and grave consequences,” noted the letter.
In April of 2018, LePage again vetoed a bill to regulate recreational weed in the state; however, Maine lawmakers eventually overrode it.
Mills, who was elected last year, on the other hand, made it clear that she was in complete support of the new law. Under the new rules, licensed retailers will be able to sell marijuana to individuals 21 and over. At first, legislators had considered limiting licenses to only in-state residents, but this provision was modified in the final version of the bill. Licenses will now be restricted to in-state people only for the first 2 years.
The new bill also has the following guidelines:
- All retail stores need to have an alarm system, 24/7 security guards and security cameras, the footage of which must be stored for at least 45 days.
- All state employees or law enforcement officials are barred from applying for a license.
- To safeguard children, no marijuana edible can be in the shape of animals, characters or other child-appealing forms.