Maine Making Moves on Marijuana

It is not even 2015, and already the prevailing narrative is about state legislatures deciding whether or not to act on marijuana reform ahead of planned citizen-led ballot initiatives. This is already happening in Ohio, Nevada, and Florida; and now, it seems that this trend has made its way to Maine.

There are currently four marijuana reforms bills that Maine’s legislature plans to address this coming session. The Maine Department of Public Safety plans on introducing a bill which will set a blood-level limit of THC in drivers. This will enable officers to arrest people under the influence of marijuana.

As of now, the bill’s specific wording is not available, so it is unknown what the legal limit will be. Erik Strickland of the Governors Highway Safety Association spoke with the Portland Press Herald about the issue.

“This is something that needs more focus now that we have states allowing recreational marijuana,” Strickland said. “States want to find a way to keep their roads safe, and that involves trying to figure out what people are driving under the influence of and how it’s impacting them.”

The Department of Health and Human Services plans on introducing an amendment to the state’s medical marijuana legislation, but currently there are no details on what that might entail.

Also on the docket is a bill that would remove the list of qualifying conditions for medical marijuana. This would essentially leave the question as to who does and does not get medical marijuana up to the doctor. Naturally, the medical marijuana market would greatly expand and the cannabis industry stands to gain from this bill’s passage.

This bill will be sponsored by state Rep. Diane Russell. Russell also plans on introducing a bill that will legalize the sale of recreational marijuana in Maine. Speaking with the Portland Press Herald, Russell revealed that her motivation for the bills was to get ahead of the planned voter referendums in 2016.

“If those both pass in 2016, the Legislature will have to decide the intent of voters and that will be a real mess for 2017,” Russell said. “The best thing to do is get ahead of the issue, set the policy and send it to referendum to let the people decide.”

In Maine, there are two prosed ballot initiatives that are floating around. One, proposed by the Marijuana Policy Alliance, would tax and regulate cannabis in a manner similar to alcohol. The other, proposed by the marijuana advocacy group Legalize Maine would allow for cannabis social clubs and tax cannabis at a relatively low eight percent.

Although both efforts are admirable, the competing initiatives threaten to dilute the support of marijuana into competing factions. Hopefully the legislation can get ahead of the curve and settle the cannabis questions before a regulatory disaster occurs.

Whether through a vote by the people or the legislature, legalization is coming to Maine. The odds of it happening are fixed upon 2016, but keep your eyes peeled, because Maine might jump ahead of schedule.

The post Maine Making Moves on Marijuana appeared first on Marijuana Investor News.