Moratorium On Marijuana Retail Establishments In Maine Expires Thursday

Photo Credit: Nanette Gonzalez

A moratorium on commercial marijuana establishments is set to expire Thursday.

In November, Maine lawmakers sustained Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana.

The bill would have established rules for the retail sale of recreational marijuana.

The House and Senate had approved a marijuana bill in October after it was proposed by a bipartisan legislative panel. Panel members spent months rewriting the law to allow local communities to opt-in to recreational marijuana sales. Other changes included adding an excise tax to the existing 10 percent sales tax on recreational marijuana.

The Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee held a public hearing last week on a bill to extend the moratorium until May 1.

According to Maine Municipal Association’s Legislative Bulletin, both the House and Senate would have to pass the bill, and it would have to be approved by LePage, to become law before Thursday.

“It is important to point out that the odds of [the bill] being finally enacted prior to Feb. 1 are slim,” the bulletin said. “The House and Senate would need to pass the bill to be enacted on January 30 (the only day the Legislature is scheduled to meet prior to Feb. 1), and Gov. LePage would have to sign it that day.”

It’s unclear what would happen if the moratorium expires, as the committee was drafting legislation to implement a regulating body for commercial marijuana establishments.

“Even though current law requires state licenses before operating, there is no prohibition on applying at the local level prior to state licensing,” the bulletin said. “It is not clear how officials in the municipalities without moratorium or prohibition ordinances should handle any ‘foot in the door’ type requests.”

Several Maine communities have passed their own moratoriums or bans.