Top marijuana supporter angry at change in new legalization bill

Marijuana Bill flap

AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER)--- Maine voters decided nearly a year ago to legalize marijuana. The Legislature will meet next Monday to vote on the plan for how to do it. But one of the leading supporters of legalization doesn’t like parts of the bill and says he wants it defeated.

The proposed law includes a number of provisions about local control by towns and cities, and would require  local voters to approve commercial growing and sale of the drug. They call it a decision to “opt in”.

But Paul Mccarrier of Legalize Maine says that’s the opposite of the referendum passed by voters. He says it will create chaos and wants lawmakers to vote against the plan.

"We do not need to re vote this, this will cause chaos because we will have 480 municipalities having to revote whether its legal or not," he said.

McCarrier said legislators should keep the provision of the original law passed by voters, which would only provide for communities to opt out of commercial marijuana.

Sen. Roger Katz (R-Augusta), the co-chairman of the Legislature's Marijuana Legalization  Committee, said they chose the opt-in approach to duplicate Maine's long standing law for liquor sales.

"In this bill we really tried to mirror what we do with alcohol, and alcohol has always been an opt in for alcohol, towns have to affirmatively say yes we will allow bars and liquor stores or no we won't. So we really wanted to mirror alcohol," said Katz.

There are many other pieces of the marijuana law. It would require people to be Maine residents for two years before they can get a license for growing or retailing marijuana. They’ve eliminated things like home delivery or internet sales.  And there would be two taxes—a 10 percent sales tax and a 10 percent excise tax—and a portion of the tax revenue would be shared with the towns and cities, as well as a special funds for drug education and police training.     

Lawmakers are scheduled to vote on Monday.

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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