Maine’s Senate has passed the bill to implement the voter-approved recreational cannabis laws 24-10, making it veto-proof from Gov. Paul LePage, the Portland Press Herald reports. A final legislative review of the measure is still required before it heads to LePage but barring any issues the first recreational licenses will be issued in spring of 2019. The measure was approved by the House earlier this week.
The measure increases the sales tax rate from 10 percent to 20 percent, earmarking 6 percent of the taxes to fund enforcement. The bill also eliminates social use, deliveries, drive-thru windows, and cuts home grow plant counts from six to three. Lawmakers also eliminated the cap on cultivation licenses but will give the first licenses to residents who filed a Maine tax return for at least four years. Analysts suggest that the recreational market will generate about $23 million a year in tax revenues.
Mainers already have the right to possess and grow their own cannabis and a gray market has emerged in which cannabis is given away for a donation equivalent to the cost of the cannabis. Other gray market models include cannabis being given to someone who pays for another item or service unrelated to cannabis.
LePage has 10 days from the time the bill makes it to his desk to sign it into law, veto it (which would likely be overridden by the Legislature), or allow it to take effect without his approval.