BELFAST – A proposal to provide $649,000 in funding to create a new division within the Office of Marijuana Policy will not be funded by the legislature.
Legalize Maine President Paul McCarrier said if this were to be approved, five Maine Drug Enforcement Agency officers would have been on loan to the Office of Marijuana Policy.
“The Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee voted to not include it in the supplemental budget, which was a wise move on their part,” McCarrier said. “That money can be spent elsewhere.”
The money was requested as additional funding as part of Gov. Janet Mill’s supplemental budget for this year.
“It’s an outdated way of thinking that we’re going to arrest our way out of this problem,” McCarrier said.
He added this policy raised many questions for business owners.
“It would be very concerning because we wouldn’t be sure. Is this administrative and compliance issue or am going to be all of a sudden crossing into the criminal conduct code?” McCarrier said.
Ideally, McCarrier said, there should be inspectors working with businesses to ensure they’re following all the rules — not get them in trouble.
“We’re hoping that the Office of Marijuana Policy will also take those inspectors to ensure that people are doing tax compliances. We have raised over $111 million sales last year which is bringing millions of dollars to the state’s coffers,” McCarrier said.
“We’re the third largest industry in the state and we hope to be treated with some respect,” he said.
The Office of Marijuana Policy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.