Maine is one of 8 states in the US that permit the use of recreational pot. But like many other states, there is a considerable amount of work that has to be done in terms of the fine details of the rules and regulations. Not to mention the brick and mortar of a fully functioning marijuana economy. The fact of the matter is that many states are struggling quite badly. There is a rush on to legalize recreational marijuana in California, Massachusetts and Maine yet all are innovating and are behind on the formulation on a comprehensive set of guidelines. But Maine have done something that the populace may not be too fond of.
Maine Lawmakers out of Control?
Maine Republican and Democratic lawmakers recently elected to delay a new voting system and to rewrite the state’s recreational marijuana law. The House voted 68-63 to delay until 2021 the voter approved ranked choice voting law that Maine Supreme Judicial Court justices warn may be unconstitutional for some elections. In 2021, the voting law would be eliminated unless Mainer residents change their constitution to explicitly allow the voting system.The legislation received a 19 to 10 enactment vote in the Senate. The House voted 81-50 on a final vote on a rewrite of the voter-approved marijuana law. The Legislature’s votes are not enough to withstand vetoes from Governor. Paul LePage.Governor LePage once remarked that marijuana is a deadly gateway drug, and is definitely not a marijuana friendly candidate. Provisions in The Marijuana Legalization Act, voted in last year by Maine residents) which permits adults to possess and grow personal use quantities of cannabis, took effect in late January this year. But lawmakers have delayed until at least February 1 in 2018, the implementation of separate rules regarding the license production, sale, and social use of marijuana.
The bill needs further support to become law, but this does seem to be a blatant violation of what the people voted for. However, there is another aspect to the decision to delay the voting system. Maine is currently a free for all in terms of how easily available marijuana would be, with little regulatory oversight and even a very low taxation system. All theory aside, the fact of the matter is that Maine will not be ready to legalize marijuana until this Summer. Many are furious at the actions of the politicians. The new proposal will see an increase in the price of marijuana, and critics see no reason for the delay in launching recreational sales. Saying “we won’t be ready” is not really good enough for many people, who believe that politicians should do what they are paid to do and represent the wishes of the public. According to Paul McCarrier, President of Legalize Maine:
“The law as written and adopted by voters would have gotten the legal marketplace up and running as soon as possible. We could have a program ready to issue licenses now, but the committee thought it knew better than the voters.It has made one change after another, and each change pushes the timeline back … and keeps the black market going”
The Role of Lawmakers
Come September there will be a number of public hearings on the matter. According to members of the senate, marijuana is not safe to the public and allowing it to remain legal would bring the state to the “brink of disaster” (Republican Senator Scott Cyrway). Other tweaks to the legislature were deemed necessary, such as the prohibition of drive through marijuana sales (Republican Senator Roger Katz). But the fundamental issues are being ignored, regardless of what the arguments are for or against the current law. The people of Maine decided to vote for a bill, and the politicians, whose job it is to represent the views of the people, decided to change the bill without any prior warning or consultation, and then claim that “we wouldn’t be ready in time”. It is part of their job to actually get the proposals and drafts ready in time. Can you imagine an employee telling you he won’t be ready in time and is changing the nature of the job given, because he won’t be ready in time? Their job is not to govern but to represent, which is a distinction that many fail to make, especially the politicians themselves.
As it Stands
For now, the Bill will need around 101 votes to become law. The committee has been working for months on a plan that would allow municipalities to opt-in to the state’s recreational pot market, with sales expected to start in 2019.But Republicans Paul LePage and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette want lawmakers to change the committee’s proposal and in the meantime simply delay pot sales until 2019. The House voted to indefinitely postpone such a plan.Republican Rep. Patrick Corey said he’s concerned the pot committee’s bill won’t provide enough tax revenue to cover the state’s implementation’s costs.
As it stands, adults can still grow up to 6 plants in their own home and possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana on their person. The status quo is said to be good for the black market as it stands. The passage of the act last year has seen an increase in the public demand for marijuana, yet the only possible avenue to supply this demand is the black market. Grey market entrepreneurs are also using loopholes in the law to introduce cannabis without paying tax, and rules and regulations are needed quickly to address this problem.