Maine recreational, regulatory marijuana bill heads to Senate for final approval

Maine legislators deliberate recreational marijuana regulatory bill Wednesday, April 11.

PORTLAND (WGME) – The state has moved another step closer to fully legalizing, implementing, and taxing recreational marijuana in Maine.

On Thursday, the House approved the bill 102-38, and now it heads to the Senate for a final vote.

Wednesday afternoon, during the last round of the bill's House-Senate hand-offs, the Senate joined the House in approving the bill's initial draft.

The bill is slated to launch the state's adult-use marijuana market and offer the state's first licenses next spring.

One of the first concessions Democrats had to make in this bill, at least for now, is that there will be no social clubs in Maine, or locations where people can both buy and smoke marijuana. House Republicans insisted that recreational growers no longer be allowed to grow six plants in their homes. Under this bill, recreational growers are allowed a max of three plants per person.

David Boyer was one of the people leading the fight to legalize pot in Maine.

He says House Republicans are behind many of the concessions in this bill.

"This has been law,” Boyer said. “Mainers grew six flowering plants this summer. And it hasn't been an issue."

Medical marijuana growers would still be allowed to grow six plants.

Ron Fousek grows the maximum 30 plants as a medical marijuana caregiver, plus six more for himself as a patient.

He's worried about big money recreational marijuana growers driving caregivers out of business.

Under this bill, Mainers would get preference for retail marijuana licenses.

Also, the tax would double, with a 10 percent sales tax and a 10 percent excise tax.

"This is business,” Fousek said. “And in business, some people prosper and other people fail."

The Senate has now sent the bill back to the House. The recreational marijuana bill passed both Houses with veto-proof majorities.

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