AUGUSTA – A moratorium on the retail sales of marijuana flew through the legislature Friday.
Now, the question remains whether Governor LePage will sign the bill.
In November, voters legalized recreational use of marijuana. The law gave lawmakers and bureaucrats until October 2017 towrith the rules and regulations for retail sale. but, in what was likely a rarity, the entire legislature agreed to extend that deadline to February 2018.
“It was very encouraging that the house of represenatives really respect the process of our government and allowing the public to have input on the citizens’ initiative,” said Paul McCarrier, Legalize Maine president.
Lawmakers stressed that at 12:01 a.m., January 30th, it will be legal to possess and cultivate marijuana, according to the voter-approved state law.
“The real focus is on the referendum process and trying to legislate through the referendum process opens jup a lot of work here. That we should do. I mean that’s our job,” said Re. Bradlee Farrin, (R) – Norridgewock.
However, late Thursday afternoon, there was some question whether Governor Lepage would sign or veto the moratorium.
Governor LePage’s press secretary, Addrienne Bennett said, the governor wants to see enforcement of the marijuana rules shifted from the Agriculture Department to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages.
“What we hear is that he’s not happy with the bill the way it was originally drafted,” said Senate Minority Leader Troy Jackson, (D) – Allagash.
Some legislators are willing to place marijuana under the auspices of the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery, just not as an attachment to the moratorium legislation.
“So, it does seem appropriate that it would go to the agency that handles alcohol. So, I think the governor’s got a good idea in that respect,” Jackson said.