In November 2016, Maine voters legalized marijuana for adult use in Maine. While there were many good parts of the voter-passed law, some of its provisions were ambiguous and confusing.

Implementing this version of marijuana legalization would likely lead to a chaotic roll-out of a commercial marijuana marketplace.

In early 2017, the Legislature recognized these shortcomings and created the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee to propose changes. The Committee has completed its work, reporting out the Act to Amend the Marijuana Legalization Act, LD 2395, which will be considered by the Legislature at its special session on October 23.

LD 2395 improves on the voter-passed law by:

clarifying and strengthening the rules on the packaging and labeling

implementing a strict product testing regime, ensuring the safety of retail marijuana products

clarifying rules on local control of marijuana, allowing Maine communities to decide in an orderly way how marijuana businesses will function in their jurisdictions

delaying licensing of “social clubs”, where marijuana can be consumed on-premises, until June, 2019, so that policymakers can more fully evaluate this controversial issue

clarifying rules around personal cultivation, capping personal cultivation at 12 mature plants per parcel, but exempting medical marijuana patients who grow their own marijuana from this limit

creating a Maine residency requirement for licensees so that Mainers can benefit from economic opportunities of this new marketplace

Supporting LD 2395 is not a choice between legalizing marijuana and not legalizing it.

That choice was already made by the voters. It is a choice between implementing marijuana legalization in a sensible and orderly way or implementing it with a risk of chaos and confusion. LD 2395 represents a substantial improvement over the voter-passed law, and I urge all members of the Legislature to support the bill, and urge Governor LePage to sign it into law.

Edward (Ted) J. Kelleher

Drummond Woodsum