Waiting Game

 In POLITICS

A great deal has happened in the past month and a half regarding our adult-use cannabis market. If you haven’t kept a sharp eye on the everything, it’s been hard to keep up with. Here’s the skinny since late September, 2017:

As we approached the balmy end of September, the fate of the language law makers spent months drafting seemed to be standing on shaky ground. Opposition from a strong number of Republicans, including Ken Fredette the house minority leader. Due to the position Fredette holds in the Legislature, it seemed likely the Republican party would follow his lead, which would mean the language may not ever see Governor Lepage’s desk. If it did manage to make it there, and he chose to veto, it didn’t seem likely a veto-override would pass.

Fast forward to late October (10/23-10/24) the Legislation (House and Senate) pass the legislative rewrite, however, with not enough margin to pass the 2/3 majority needed, should the need to over-ride a possible veto from Lepage. This didn’t sit well with proponents of the bill.

Now that the bill had made it to Lepage’s desk, he had until November 3rd to decide what he would do, or the bill went into law. At this point, both sides of the isle expect that he will wait the 10 days he has, then veto the bill. He did exactly that.

This past Monday (11/6) the vote on the veto override occurs; 74-62, in favor win the majority, but fails to pass the 2/3 margin by 17 votes. The veto override fails.

So, what’s next? When will we see the much-anticipated debut of the adult-use cannabis market here in Maine? It seems not for a while.

We will have to wait until January to see exactly what happens, though signs are pointing to law makers that have been working diligently to bring Maine’s adult-use cannabis market to life will be forced to retrace their steps this January. It’s difficult to say if we will see something pass in the near term, there is a great deal of indication that we won’t see anything until 2019, and by then, Lepage will be out of office.

Recently Fredette said, “the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation must get tougher on people who drive high, crack down on loopholes in the medical marijuana program and kill a tax-sharing provision for towns that host recreational growing operations or retail stores if it wants the support of LePage and the House Republicans that scuttled the committee’s special session legislation Monday. If they don’t, they’ll get more of the same: they’ll get another veto.” He plans to propose legislation that would extend the current February 2018 moratorium until January 2019.

This has some caregivers anxious. Businesses have been looking to expand into the exciting new market, but are being forced to wait during this long law-making process. Whether or not lawmakers use the failed language as a framework, or must start from scratch, it’s looking as though there won’t be retail cannabis on shelves until early to mid-2019. One thing that does seem certain, while we wait for language to be approved, the medical cannabis program seems to be in the crosshairs, and this is something caregivers should certainly be anxious about.

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