Gov. Paul LePage is proposing a moratorium on full implementation of Maine’s recreational marijuana law until 2019.
According to House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, R-Newport, who is sponsoring the bill on behalf of LePage, both the law that’s on the books, which was enacted last year in a statewide referendum, and a new bill to implement key aspects of legalization that will be taken up next week, are flawed. He said the implementation bill, which was published last week, hasn’t been available to lawmakers long enough for them to absorb the details.
“This option provides legislators with the opportunity to deal with this issue during the regular legislative session which starts in January, rather than having a straight up or down vote on the bill put forward by the committee,” Fredette said in a written statement.
Fredette said he would not support the marijuana bill because of the process that produced it.
That process included months of deliberations by a special Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee, which produced a bill earlier this month. The preliminary text of that bill was circulated to lawmakers on Friday, and the final text was expected to be available Thursday afternoon, according to a spokeswoman for House Speaker Sara Gideon.
As one of their first orders of business in January, the Legislature and LePage enacted LD 88, which delayed implementation of parts of the marijuana law until Feb. 1, 2018, and fixed some drafting flaws, including language that would have made marijuana possession legal for minors.
Proponents of the new bill argue that without its enactment, Maine’s towns and cities would face uncertainty when considering local ordinances, important protections such as buffer zones around schools would be lost and the marijuana black market would thrive.