When they legalized marijuana in 2016, Maine voters approved one of the most tolerant recreational marijuana laws in the country, one that would allow adults to consume marijuana in a licensed social setting and grow up to six plants at home for their personal use.
Maine would have become the first state in the nation to legalize marijuana social clubs. But the Legislature rewrote the law in 2017, and then again in 2018, eliminating social clubs and cutting the at-home plant count in half to secure the votes to override the veto of former Gov. Paul LePage.
This month, lawmakers are considering bills that would restore these original elements of the referendum law. On Monday, a legislative committee held its first hearing about on-site consumption before voting 9-2 to restore the home grow limits in the 2016 referendum question.
“I believe it is time to bring the voters what they approved,” said Heather Sullivan of Hollis, who works for Curaleaf, a large multistate cannabis company active in Maine’s medical and recreational cannabis markets. Maine wasn’t ready to lead then, Sullivan said, but it can follow other states’ example now.
If Maine amends the marijuana law to allow for social clubs, it would no longer be an industry pioneer. Nine states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Nevada – allow on-site cannabis consumption, or do not ban it and thus allow for cities to permit clubs.
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