Maine’s legalization rollout may take longer than expected

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Maine’s legalization rollout may take longer than expected

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Thor Benson / Cannabis News Box Contributor

Rules concerning how Maine will regulate sales and packaging in its cannabis industry were supposed to be ready by April, but since the state recently rescinded a Los Angeles consultant’s bid to help craft the rules, it’s looking like things may take longer than expected.

Maine voters legalized cannabis back in 2016, but Republican Gov. Paul LePage blocked any progress from being made in terms of how it would be regulated for the rest of his final term. Now the state has Democratic Gov. Janet Mills, who is allowing legalization to move forward. Another group, Freedman & Koski of Colorado, is also trying to win approval to help craft Maine’s regulations.

“The shift in governor is great, but it is going to add some time to the process, unfortunately,” Diane Russell, a cannabis activist who ran for governor in 2018, told Cannabis News Box. “At least this governor is okay with it being legal.”

Russell said it’s too early to tell how Gov. Mills will handle legalization, but things look pretty good so far. She said one major problem is there isn’t much of a consensus regarding how regulations should look in the state.

“No one is in agreement about what it should look like or how it should be laid out,” Russell said. “That’s been a big part of the problem. Even people who should agree, don’t.”

“Governor Mills’ Administration is committed to the swift and responsible implementation of the adult use of recreational marijuana law and will do all it can to accomplish that in an expeditious manner,” Mills’ spokesperson said in a statement.

Many states have faced issues regarding how much cannabis should be taxed, how strict packaging regulations should be and things like how to tackle high driving. Maine, surely, will be debating these issues and more for months to come.

Russell believes the best way to move forward would be to put in place a “Weed Czar” who would be in control of the process and get things done in an expedient manner. This is how multiple other states have addressed these issues.

Legalization efforts are moving forward in Maine, but it looks like there’s still quite a bit of work to do. The state finally has a governor who’s willing to do what the people voted for, but that’s just the first step in the process. Cannabis advocates hope everything will be ready and rolled out by the end of the year.