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A special legislative committee has approved its second bill to create rules for the recreational marijuana market in Maine. The bill contains several concessions designed to win the support of Gov. Paul LePage and other Republicans, who scuttled the initial effort last year.

Reps agree that the bill isn’t perfect. Critics of the measure passed in committee worry that it falls short of creating a viable regulated marijuana market that can compete with, and eventually diminish, a thriving underground cannabis trade.

“I mean there’s no question there’s a lot to dislike in this bill,” says Rep. Erik Jorgensen, a Portland Democrat. “There’s a lot to like in this bill. Have we made progress, have we made progress? I think that’s definitely true.”

Among the key provisions is a 10 percent tax rate on retail sales and a 21.5 percent rate on wholesale sales. The state’s finance agency says this complex tax scheme will yield a 20 percent effective rate and bring in more than $16 million in tax revenue by fiscal year 2021.

While some elements drew broad support, others

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AUGUSTA, Maine. (WABI) No marijuana social clubs and no sharing of the state’s marijuana tax revenues with communities that host cultivation or retail cannabis sales.

Those were some of the changes made to Maine’s adult-use cannabis law.

The Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee took their final vote Friday on the language of the overhauled bill.

The 17-member panel was forced to reconfigure the legislation after Governor LePage’s veto.

The Dept. of Administrative & Financial Services proposed a 21.5% excise tax at wholesale on marijuana products.

Cannabis cultivators would pay $335 in taxes per pound of marijuana sold.

“I think what we wanted to do was provide a tax structure that didn’t have everything at the point of purchase that also had an excise tax. An excise tax allows the state to be able to prepare and understand how much will be coming in in a more consistent way,” said Rep. Teresa Pierce, (D) Chair, MLI Committee.

“We made a few changes. We’ve put the entire regulation of this new industry under the Department of Administrative & Financial Services,

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The Maine committee tasked with implementing the state’s voter-approved recreational cannabis law voted 10-4 to remove all references to social use licensing from the legislature’s proposed regulations for the program, the Portland Press-Herald reports. The vote is not binding; however, a final committee vote on the proposals will be held tomorrow.

Social-use clubs were included in the ballot measure approved by voters in 2016. The committee voted 5-1 last month to delay the social use provisions of the law until 2023.

“No other state has licensed social clubs. This is clearly the law, but it passed by the narrowest of margins. We ought to go slow and be conservative.” — Sen. Roger Katz, co-chairman of the implementation committee, to the Press-Herald

The committee also rejected a plan to share cannabis tax revenues with municipalities friendly to the cannabis industry. The plan would have given localities that host cultivation, processing, or retail dispensaries a cut of the tax proceeds. The proposal was included in the legislation vetoed by Gov. Paul LePage last November. The new proposal included language that would have

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Written By ESR News Blog Editor Thomas Ahearn

On February 1, 2018, portions of IB 2015, c.5, “Question 1 – An Act to Legalize Marijuana” took effect in Maine requiring employers to stop drug testing job applicants for marijuana use and also preventing employers from firing workers 21 years or older for the use of marijuana outside of the workplace.

Maine voters approved Question 1 to permit the recreational use, retail sale, and taxation of marijuana in November of 2016. The law was originally scheduled to take effect January 30, 2017, but the Maine legislature imposed a moratorium on the retail sales and taxation of marijuana until February 2018.

Although the new effective date for the law has now passed, Maine has not yet finalized rules that will permit the retail sale of marijuana and marijuana products. But employers cannot discriminate against workers for their off-work use of marijuana even though the drug is still illegal at the federal level.

The portion of Question 1 dealing with discrimination reads: A school, employer or landlord may not refuse to enroll

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A provision of Maine’s recreational marijuana law prohibits employers from taking adverse employment actions for off-premises marijuana use, as of February 1, 2018. This law effectively prevents Maine employers from testing for marijuana for pre-employment purposes. The law also affects employers who employ employees subject to federal drug and alcohol testing regulations as well as those employers who are exempt from complying with Maine’s drug testing law.

Background

Maine voters approved the recreational marijuana law in November 2016. The law originally was scheduled to take effect on January 30, 2017. However, emergency legislation passed three days before that date delayed implementation of certain provisions of the law while the legislature reviewed and revised provisions on the retail sales of marijuana. Once the legislature did so, the Governor, on November 3, 2017, vetoed the law. The legislature sustained the Governor’s veto.

However, despite the veto, portions of the recreational marijuana law that were not under review were scheduled to take effect on February 1, 2018. As no action was taken prior to that date to delay or stop implementation of those

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AUGUSTA — State lawmakers who are working to launch Maine’s adult-use cannabis industry have eliminated all references to social clubs from a proposed overhaul of the Marijuana Legalization Act.

Voters approved social clubs as part of the legalization referendum in 2016, but lawmakers have repeatedly voted for delays in an effort to keep Maine from being the first state to license gathering places for marijuana users.

“No other state has licensed social clubs,” said Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, co-chairman of the implementation committee. “This is clearly the law, but it passed by the narrowest of margins. We ought to go slow and be conservative.”

On Wednesday, the committee voted 10-4 to eliminate references to social club licensing in one of a series of straw votes on its adult-use implementation bill. A final committee vote is planned for Friday.

The committee also voted down a plan to share the state’s marijuana tax revenues with communities that agree to host a licensed cultivation, processing or retail sales business.

It had initially proposed giving towns a cut of the state taxes, but the

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Committee Makes Headway on Recreational Marijuana Legislation

A special legislative committee is closer to creating a new bill to regulate recreational marijuana for adults. Lawmakers on the panel hope the proposal will garner enough support to become law, but there’s already grumbling that it concedes too much to Gov. Paul LePage, an opponent of legalization.

The marijuana implementation committee has taken a series of straw votes that significantly overhaul the law approved by voters in 2016. The changes include cutting in half the number of flowering plants a Maine adult can cultivate for personal use from six plants to three. It also eliminates cannabis social clubs and it requires cities and towns to take affirmative action to allow cultivation, wholesaling and retail operations. The committee also reversed course on a provision that would have shared tax revenue from cannabis sales with cities and towns.

Last year the committee supported municipal revenue sharing as a way of defraying costs that municipalities may incur in policing or regulating cannabis businesses and to help create a viable regulated market.

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Lawmakers Consider Lowering Number Of Marijuana Plants Mainers Can Grow For Personal Use

Maine’s recreational marijuana law allows adults to grow up to six flowering plants for personal and recreational use — but the legislative committee that’s overhauling the law is trying to cut that allotment by half.

Supporters of the proposal under consideration say it would give municipalities more flexibility to craft their own home-grow rules. They also say that the larger limit of six plants creates extra supply, which could potentially find its way onto the black market, especially if out-of-state traffickers pay Maine landowners to cultivate on their property.

They point to the example of Colorado, which originally allowed residents to grow up to 99 plants, but recently slashed it to 12 due to concerns about the black market.

Independent state Rep. Kent Ackley of Monmouth says leaving the existing six plant limit in Maine could undercut the yet-to-be launched recreational market.

“If we don’t, we don’t have a regulated marketplace where we can control the supply to a reasonable, rational way, and

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