The hottest topic at the moment in America is marijuana legalization. It is a huge phenomenon that is disrupting a number of industries. Marijuana is still illegal at the Federal level and it has been left up to individual states to decide whether or not they want to legalize. The result of this is that 8 states have currently legalizedrecreational marijuana. These states are Colorado, Nevada, Washington, Massachusetts, Alaska, Oregon, Maine and California. 29 states currently allow medical marijuana. There are a number of different rules and regulations in each state which are changing and evolving all the time, so it is quite a complex regulatory and legal field. Once legalized at the State level it is up to local counties to implement procedures to comply with state and federal laws. In many ways, it is a quagmire of differing requirements, especially since there are different rules in relation to the regulation of both medical and recreational marijuana.
Marijuana banned in Maine Town?
The town of Surry is set to hold a public hearing on Sept. 20 to discuss the ordinanceto prohibit marijuana retail stores and pot social clubs. A special town meeting is scheduled for the Second of October.Maine voters last year approved legalizing the possession, sale and use of recreational marijuana by persons over 21 years of age. Possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana became legal earlier this year but lawmakers pushed back legalization of marijuana sales to next year.Surry voted 526-477 against the marijuana legalization referendum.A legislative committee is determining a regulatory framework for recreational marijuana sales and licensing.
The legalization of marijuana is in many ways unprecedented in its decentralization. Once legalized it is pretty much up to each local county to decide how and if they want to implement marijuana. This is true and pure decentralization, where each region gets to vote on what it wants to do. Some may want less restrictions and other may want very strict compliance and regulatory standards. As good as it sounds, it does come with a number of difficulties and setbacks. One is that there are so many differing rules and requirements not just between each state but also between each county.
Maine is just one of many other towns considering banning marijuana. Like California, Maine is set to experience recreational marijuana next year, but this has not gone down well with a number of counties in Southern Maine. Lebanon was the first town in Southern Maine to become marijuana free and more are set to join.
York is holding a similar referendum this weekend and could join Lebanon on a small but growing list of Maine towns considering shutting down the new legal marijuana market that is expected to launch next year, after lawmakers set up a regulatory system to oversee the industry. According to Ted Kelleher, an attorney with who leads a practice group focusing on highly regulated markets: “It’s the most clear-cut, unambiguous action a town can take. It avoids the need to have to face a lot of the other more complicated, difficult questions about where you would permit these stores and how many you would allow.”
Many towns have halted marijuana legalization until they can come to terms with the social implications of the plant and all that comes with it, from licensing to zoning permits to regulation of growth. Indeed, it comes with a lot of responsibility. Marijuana is actually notoriously difficult to grow and regulate. Badly run marijuana operations wreak havoc on the environment. Then there is the very tricky issue of setting standards for the regulation and certification of marijuana strains. The police force is not equipped to manage illegal growth operations, of which there are many, and there are no inspectors to enforce any sort of standards (standards which as of yet do not really exist). In sum, the framework is not there, neither are the resources, and some towns have simply said no to marijuana until they have more information and data. While many towns have halted the legalization of marijuana, some have simply said no. This is their choice and has to be respected. In December, the Kennebec County town of Oakland became the first dry town in Maine. In Saco, city councilors are considering an ordinance to ban recreational marijuana business for a year.
A Little bit Premature
The towns are entitled to do as they please as long as it is what the residents want to do. But simply banning marijuana might be a foolish mistake in many ways simply because” We don’t know how to manage”. This is a somewhat childish approach. As adults, it might be a good idea to simply halt it and to start putting procedures in place so that organically and over time marijuana can be integrated into the town in an effective and efficient manner. In any case towns only have the ability to ban sales and business-related activities. Recreational marijuana is still legal and residents can grow their own personal supply of marijuana in Maine.
However, there is one good argument as put forward by Jon Speers, vice chairman of the York Board of Selectmen.: “Where do you think that tax money is going to be going? Straight to Augusta. We’re not going to see any retail sales tax on these operations.” The money is not really there to pay for enforcement officials to tackle marijuana regulation and to ensure that compliance standards are met.