Legalize Maine, the organization behind the Pine Tree State’s successful legalization initiative, has announced its opposition to a measure aimed at rewriting the state’s recreational marijuana laws.
Under the amended measure, LR 2395, cities and local municipalities would be required to “opt-in” to recreational marijuana sales, whereas the original law allowed recreational sales statewide and gave towns the option to ban sales.
Also included in the bill are provisions that implement a 20% tax on recreational marijuana, remove the limit on how much land can be used to grow marijuana and require two-year state residency for prospective licensees.
Characterizing the bill as “not ready for primetime,” Paul T. McCarrier, President of Legalize Maine, told the Portland Press Herald that the bill would make it difficult for the state’s recreational marijuana industry to get off the ground, arguing that it is easier to convince towns not to ban recreational sales than it is to convince them to allow recreational sales.
“This (new bill) will only encourage the black market in Maine and is the exact opposite of what the voters of Maine approved,” McCarrier said.
Lawmakers defend the opt-in provision by pointing out the fact that the state’s alcohol industry operates under similar requirements and that it is only fair that the marijuana industry is held to the same standard.
Despite Legalize Maine’s opposition, other advocacy groups, such as the state chapter of the Marijuana Policy Project, have come out in support of the bill. The bill is expected to be taken up by the legislature during a special legislative session on Oct. 23, 2017.