HALLOWELL, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Maine's towns and cities would like to share some of the new tax revenue that will come from sales of legal marijuana. But they will need to convince the Legislature to allow that, and so far lawmakers are keeping a grip on the purse strings.
The referendum passed by voters last fall set the marijuana tax at 10 percent. But that’s far lower than any of the other states with legal marijuana – some of which have a 37 percent tax. The leaders of the legislative committee writing the new rules say that tax is likely to be increased.
Cities like Hallowell hope to get some of that money. City Manager Nate Rudy said Monday they will bear a lot of the cost of implementing and enforcing the new rules for retail sale and commercial growing of marijuana, and they would like to have help paying for it.
"We need people to recognize that local communities will continue to have a burden for law enforcement," Rudy said, "and we need funding to hire and train, to meet the needs for regulation under the new laws."
Leaders of the Legislative committee told NEWS CENTER they weren’t sure about sharing the revenue with local government.
"That's going to be a pretty robust discussion," said Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, the co-chair of the committee. "The committee has a lot of differences of opinion."
That committee is dealing with some of the more controversial issues last, including taxes and the question of marijuana and the workplace, where employers have raised many questions.
The legislators say they are hoping to vote on a final package in the next several weeks, though there is no precise timetable.
The leaders of that committee said they may take one potential burden off local government: they say marijuana "social clubs", which were part of the referendum passed by voters, will probably not be included in the final version of the new law.