By Marina Villeneuve
AUGUSTA, Maine (AP) — The Maine Senate on Wednesday approved a bill that would eventually allow legal marijuana sales in the state, setting the stage for lawmakers to have enough support to avert a potential veto by Republican Gov. Paul LePage.
The Senate backed the new compromise legislation 24-10. The legislation had been held up by politics since Maine voters called for the legalization of retail pot sales in November 2016. Lawmakers and lobbyists have been trying to hammer out a deal ever since.
If the latest compromise becomes law, state regulators will be tasked with drawing up rules to allow pot sales likely by 2019 or 2020.
Republican Sen. Roger Katz said the bill would allow municipalities to opt-in and allow pot sales, while providing some tax revenues for law enforcement and public awareness campaigns.
“You’re deciding between two bills: this bill and the original marijuana legalization act” passed by voters, Katz said.
The voter-approved law created a 10 percent sales tax on retail marijuana. The new bill also would require growing facilities to pay an