AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- The Legislature's special Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee asked for ideas and concerns from the public on Tuesday, and heard plenty from attendees. During a four and a half hour session, legislators heard from dozens of people, most enthusiastic about marijuana.
Maine voters passed the referendum to legalize recreational use of pot, but the Legislature needs to create the policies and rules to actually allow commercial growing and sale of the drug. That process will be handled by the special MLI committee and is expected to take most of this year.
During Tuesday's session, a number of marijuana "caregivers" and medical marijuana patients spoke about the importance of that program and stressed the need to keep the medical marijuana system in place.Patients, in particular, spoke about concerns the recreational growers would not provide the specialized varieties medical patients use.
Business groups spoke about concerns over marijuana in the workplace, and uncertainty over how state laws will address the rights of employers to restrict the use of the drug. Law enforcement and public safety concerns continue to be prominent, including the lack of quick, effective tests for impairment, similar to those for alcohol.
Town and city government also raised issues about local implementation of the new law, and asked legislators to keep the need for local zoning and licensing requirements in mind.
Legislators say there are many other issues they will need to deal with in the months ahead, as they craft the rules for commercial growing and retail sales of marijuana. That process will happen under the shadow of a potential veto by the federal government. Last week, White House officials suggested the Trump Administration might get tough with states like Maine and block efforts to legalize marijuana because is is still illegal at the federal level.
Committee leaders say they will continue their work to implement the Maine law, even as the discussions continue in Washington.