Maine is one of 8 states where recreational marijuana is legal, set to come into force next year. However, it has been slow off the mark with continual delays in procedure. Recreationalmarijuana was approved by Maine voters by a slim margin in November 2016 and was one of the first states on the East Coast to recognize recreational marijuana. Massachusetts and possibly Rhode Island are also set to legalize in 2018. Maine has a fantastic track record in terms of medical marijuana and was voted best in the country in 2014. Maine residents can now grow up to 6 plants in their own home but as for the sale of marijuana in outlets there is still a considerable amount of legislation that needs to be established. It is up to each county and city to decide on how they want to proceed, and like all counties facing this issue, it is a slow and piecemeal process with differing rules and requirements across the board that can be overly complex at times.
South Portland Marijuana Shops
The City Council of South Portland is set to take a final vote next week on proposed zoning and licensing regulations that would make this among the first municipalities in Maine to welcome marijuana businesses in the region. Officials have been working on the proposed ordinance amendments for nearly a year, after a majority of Maine voters approved recreational marijuana.
Most councilors have acknowledged the potential benefits of a “green economy” and the challenges of regulating a new market. The ordinance amendments are designed to both allow and control marijuana businesses in the city’s commercial and industrial districts.The regulations would prohibit marijuana social clubs and wouldn’t address marijuana cultivation as a home occupation – two businesses that some councilors wanted to allow. The council agreed to set those issues aside for now and revisit them in six months, according to City Manager Scott Morelli.
Public Enemy Number One
Public enemy number one in Maine at present is none other than Governor Paul Le Page, the Montgomery Burns of the marijuana industry and not the nuclear sector. According to LePage, he cannot support recreational expansion of marijuana as it is prohibited at the Federal level. This is a thin excuse often used by politicians who are against the legalization of marijuana but do not have a plausible explanation. They typically have 3 to choose from – That the scientific benefits of marijuana are not yet proven (a brazen lie), that it would lead to the degradation of society and increase in crime (it has not, and studies have proven that it leads to a decrease in crime) and the final excuse that it is illegal at the Federal level. While this may be true, this does not mean that individual states cannot pass the legalization of marijuana, as has been done previously in multiple states.
Governor LePage would continue to make up lies to cover over his vested interests in keeping marijuana prohibited. He stated that the bill failed to address shortcomings of the state’s medical marijuana program; would set up a confusing and costly dual-agency regulatory system; and might not collect enough taxes to cover the cost of implementing and regulating the new market. The same medical marijuana system that was voted the best in the country in 2014. The regulation does not have to be confusing or costly if it is done correctly, which is what politicians are paid for using taxpayer money. And in all states where recreational marijuana was passed, it has generated overwhelming profits. His statements can only be true if the situation is handled with a large degree of incompetency and gross negligence. He is clutching at straws while openly insulting the intelligence of the American people. All facts notwithstanding, The Maine House voted Monday to sustain Governor Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would create the legal framework for retail sales of recreational marijuana.The 74-62 vote Monday fell 17 votes short of the two-thirds margin required to overturn LePage’s veto.
Meanwhile, in South Portland, there is much support for recreational marijuana. South Portland voters decided in 2014 that it was legal for adults in the city to possess small amounts of marijuana. A year ago, they voted 8,565 to 6,226 to legalize marijuana production, sales and use by adults statewide.
A Loss for the Little Guy
Last month, the Planning Board voted 4-2 to recommend the proposed zoning amendments which outline where marijuana growing, testing, processing and selling operations would be permitted or allowed by special exception. Marijuana businesses would be excluded from most residential districts; indoor growing operations would be allowed by special exception in the village residential and rural residential districts. Hopefully, Maine can implement recreational marijuana with as much success as they did with medical marijuana. A 2015 poll suggest that up to 65% of Maine residents are in favor of recreational marijuana. Unfortunately, with the house upholding the veto there is no clear path forward, and recreational marijuana has been left in limbo thanks to vested interests, which have clearly won this battle at the expense of the residents of Maine. It is up to independent organizations to get recreational marijuana back on the table, as the politicians are most certainly on the other side. In the meantime, black markets will flourish.