Senate enacts bill to address errors in marijuana legalization law

Posted: January 26, 2017 | Senator Carpenter, Veterans and Legal Affairs

LD 88 ensures minors are barred from use of pot, extends rulemaking period for three months

AUGUSTA —Sen. Mike Carpenter, D-Houlton, hailed enactment Thursday of a bill to correct unintended consequences in the recently passed referendum to legalize recreational marijuana. The bill now goes to Gov. Paul LePage for his signature or veto.

The bill — LD 88, “An Act to Delay the Implementation of Certain Portions of the Marijuana Legalization Act” — corrects an error in the referendum language that would have inadvertently allowed people under 21 years old to possess and consume recreational marijuana. The referendum passed by Mainers explicitly asked whether to legalize marijuana for people over 21 years old.

The bill also clarifies definitions of “marijuana” and “marijuana concentrates,” and gives lawmakers an additional three months to create a first-of-its-kind regulatory framework to govern the licensing, retail and taxation of recreational marijuana in Maine.

Sen. Carpenter serves on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee, which worked with stakeholders including the campaign that advocated for legalization at the ballot to negotiate the terms of the bill. The committee unanimously endorsed the bill enacted Thursday.

“This was a challenging and important bit of work to start this session,” said Sen. Carpenter. “I didn’t support marijuana legalization at the ballot, but the people of Maine spoke and we need to respect their wishes. When they spoke, they said they wanted marijuana to be regulated like alcohol, made legal for adults over 21 years old. This bill ensures that will be the case.”

“The Committee’s unanimous endorsement of this bill was a testament to the thoughtful, deliberate work that went into its design,” Sen. Carpenter said. “It’s a good way to start this session.”

LD 88 would amend the marijuana legalization law that takes effect on Jan. 30. Gov. LePage has 10 days to sign the bill, veto it, or allow it to take effect without his signature.