Voters may have spoken on marijuana legalization, but the forecast for when Mainers could legally enjoy the drug remains hazy, at best.
Carrying out the will of the voters – albeit a slim majority of them – on legalization will be one of the most arduous tasks facing lawmakers returning in January for a legislative session overflowing with major issues.
Absent a legal curveball from Gov. Paul LePage, a foe of legalization, Mainers 21 and over might be able to possess and grow their own pot by late January or early February even if retail sales are perhaps a year away. But those hoping to enjoy a puff of their personal stash while policymakers figure out the complicated retail details could be disappointed.
There is also a strong sentiment among some power brokers in Augusta – including Senate President Mike Thibodeau and Attorney General Janet Mills – that legalization should be postponed while lawmakers figure out how to regulate the drug.
Among the major legalization-related questions facing Maine are: How to protect children? Which state agency should oversee the industry? How to pay for that regulation? What tools do police need to crack down on drugged drivers? And what does recreational legalization mean for Maine’s medical marijuana program?
Those issues and others are addressed below, beginning with the question on many Mainers’ minds …
When will it become legal?
“I just think there are a lot of problems with this law that are not minor,” said Mills, the state’s top attorney. “It’s going to take a lot