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Will Maine finally get its cannabis regulations?


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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

As we’ve reported before, Maine has been struggling to pass cannabis regulations since the state legalized in 2016, largely because of interference from Republican Gov. Paul LePage and his Republican allies. Now, it’s looking like Democrats and Republicans may have finally struck a deal that can pass and possibly even survive a veto from LePage.

The bill passed in the House and is heading to the state’s Senate. LePage said he will veto the bill, but he’ll have to gather more support in the Congress to make the veto hold. Otherwise, it appears they currently have enough support to override his veto.

Critics of the bill say it doesn’t allow people to grow enough plants and there are no social clubs allowed.

“I’m not a fan of the bill that passed because it has implications for the medical program, reduces the plant count by half and doesn’t [let] current medical growers launch early,” Diane Russell, a candidate for governor in Maine, told Cannabis News Box. “I’d prefer to see the professionals do the roll out so it goes smoothly.”

Regardless of what happens with this bill, LePage won’t be able to stand up against legalization for much longer, because he’s being termed out of office. An election is being held at the end of this year, and he’ll be out of office by the beginning of 2019. As it stands, it’s looking like Maine may get a Democratic governor, which would vastly improve the situation for cannabis advocates.

“I don’t think the next [governor] will be a Republican,” Russell said. “Most Dems are supportive, though some will roll out more conservative programs that will make it harder for patients and small growers. No Dem or Indy to date will stall implementation.”

Maine has been struck with an opioid crisis, like much of the country, and advocates in the state often cite that as one reason they should be rushing to get these regulations out. States with legal cannabis tend to have fewer opioid deaths because people are able to replace the opioids they might use with cannabis. The longer LePage stalls legalization, the more lives he may be putting at risk.

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