Local legislators split on retail marijuana sales

By Stephen Betts | Apr 11, 2018

Local legislators were split on a bill that gained overwhelming approval this week to legalize retail marijuana sales beginning in the spring of 2019.

The Maine House voted 112-34 on Tuesday, April 10, for the bill, LD 1719. On Wednesday, the state Senate followed suit and approved the legislation 24-10.

Those margins would be enough to override a veto by Gov. Paul LePage if he takes that action.

In the House, Democratic Rep. John Spear of South Thomaston; Republican Rep. Abden Simmons of Waldoboro; and Democratic Rep. Walter Kumiega III of Deer Isle voted for the legislation.

Democratic Rep. Pinny Beebe-Center; independent Rep. Owen Casas of Rockport; and Republican Rep. Paula Sutton of Warren voted against the measure.

Casas stated on Facebook that he voted against the legislation because it does not treat municipalities fairly. The bill would send  sales and excise tax proceeds to the state. Casas also voiced opposition to the bill because it reduces the number of plants a person can grow for their own use at home from six to three.

In the Senate, Republican Sens. Dana Dow of Waldoboro and Michael Thibodeau of Winterport voted for the bill.

Democratic Sen. David Miramant of Camden voted against the legislation.

"I voted against this bill because it continued to erode the will of the voters around recreational marijuana," Miramant said." It reduced the number of plants, it took away revenue-sharing from the towns where it is sold, with all taxes going to the state. It removed the protection from discrimination when trying to get a job, rent an apartment or enroll in certain schools. These legal activities were protected under the referendum and have been removed from this bill."

Maine voters approved a referendum by less than a 1 percent margin in November 2016 to make recreational marijuana sales legal, but the Legislature and governor have delayed implementation until they developed regulations.

According to the Portland Press Herald, if the bill continues on its current path, Mainers can expect to see the first recreational business licenses issued in the spring of 2019. It allows recreational retailers to buy marijuana from former medical growers, a provision that will help them stock their shelves and potentially get Maine’s recreational market up and running very quickly.

But Mainers wouldn’t be able to buy marijuana and consume it in a social club, according to the Press Herald article, because that option was stripped out of the bill to make it more politically palatable. They also would have to reduce the size of their home grow from six to three plants, which lawmakers hope will reduce diversion into the black market. Towns will get to decide if they will allow recreational marijuana businesses in their towns, but they won’t get a piece of the tax spoils, which would all go to the state.

Knox County voters backed the November 2016 marijuana referendum 12,162 to 11,281. A majority of voters in Friendship, North Haven, Owls Head, Union, Warren and Washington voted against the referendum.

Comments (2)
Posted by: ananur forma | Apr 11, 2018 19:19

What "the people" voted for matters.... in a "Democracy." More and more it seems we do not have one.



Posted by: Ron Hawkes | Apr 11, 2018 18:52

In the House, Democratic Rep. John Spear of South Thomaston; Republican Rep. Abden Simmons of Waldoboro; and Democratic Rep. Walter Kumiega III of Deer Isle voted for the legislation. In the Senate, Republican Sens. Dana Dow of Waldoboro and Michael Thibodeau of Winterport voted for the bill.
These people must be voted out because they do not care what the people have said they want. This bill is wrong, it takes away some of the most important parts of what we the people passed almost 2 years ago!!



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