As marijuana becomes legal in Maine, governor seeks funding for rules

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By Scott Malone

<span class="articleLocation”>Maine on Monday became the eighth U.S. state to
legalize recreational marijuana use and the state’s Republican
governor called on lawmakers to approve funds to develop rules
to oversee retail sales of the drug.

The measure was narrowly approved by voters on Nov. 8 to
make it legal for adults 21 and over to possess and use
marijuana, but did not take effect until Monday.

Governor Paul LePage, who opposed legalization, said he
would order the state’s Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and
Lottery Operations to hold off on formulating rules to govern
the sale of the drug until the state’s legislature approved new
funding. A measure approved by state lawmakers last week delayed
the retail sales of the drug until February 2018.

“The executive branch must be provided with the resources
necessary to implement this new law,” LePage said in a

Massachusetts on Dec. 15 became the first state in the
densely populated U.S. Northeast to legalize recreational
marijuana use, also the result of a Nov. 8 ballot initiative.
Lawmakers there delayed until July 1, 2018 the legal sale the
drug, leaving state residents in a gray area where they can use
but not legally buy marijuana.

Marijuana remains illegal under federal law but is now legal
in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, Nevada, California and Alaska,
as well as Maine, Massachusetts and the District of Columbia.

The Maine state senate on Monday named five members, three
Republicans and two Democrats, to a committee charged with
developing laws related to marijuana.

Legalization advocates called on the governor and
legislature to act quickly to clear the way for legal sales.

“Now that the law has taken effect, our efforts must turn to
the timely and effective implementation of the remaining parts
of the law, to ensure that all Maine taxpayers benefit,” said
Alysia Melnick, a lawyer with Maine’s Yes on 1 campaign.

An October poll by Gallup showed that 60 percent of
Americans now support the legalization of recreational use of
marijuana. Even more approve of the idea of legalizing marijuana
for medical use, a step that 28 states have taken.

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