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Lawmakers Are Speculating Regarding Permitting Marijuana Social Clubs And Boosting Home Grow!

When Maine voters legalized marijuana in 2016, they passed one of the most lenient recreational marijuana laws in the country. This law lets adults use marijuana in a licensed social setting and grow up to six plants at home for their own use.

Maine would have been the first state in the country to let people get together to smoke marijuana. But the Legislature changed the law in 2017 and again in 2018 to get enough votes to override the veto of former Gov. Paul LePage. They got rid of social clubs and cut the number of plants that could be grown at home in half.

This month, lawmakers are looking at bills that would put these original parts of the referendum law back in place. On Monday, a legislative committee held its first hearing about using marijuana on-site. Then, with a vote of 9-2, the home growth limits in the 2016 referendum question were put back in place.

“I think it’s time to give the voters what they voted for,” said Heather Sullivan of Hollis, who works for Curaleaf, a large company with a presence in both the medical and recreational cannabis markets in Maine. Sullivan said that Maine wasn’t ready to lead back then, but that it can now learn from other states.

Maine would no longer be a leader in the marijuana industry if it changed the law to allow social clubs. Nine states—Alaska, California, Colorado, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, and Nevada—either let people use marijuana on-site or don’t ban it, which means cities can open clubs.

Sullivan said that people who use cannabis in Maine should have safe, controlled places where they can use their rights with people who feel the same way. State law makes it illegal to use cannabis almost everywhere except in a person’s own home. This means that renters and tourists have nowhere legally to use cannabis.

Lawmakers Are Speculating Regarding Permitting Marijuana Social Clubs And Boosting Home Grow!

Sullivan told the committee, “As a single woman of a certain age, the idea of a place where I could meet potential suitors safely and get to know them over a good conversation and a joint feels a lot safer than meeting in a bar full of drunk people.”

Onsite Edibles

Rep. Lynne Williams, D-Bar Harbor, introduced L.D. 839, and Sullivan spoke in favor of it. The bill lets people eat edible cannabis in a licensed recreational cannabis shop with approval from the city. As it was changed on Monday, this bill does not let people smoke cannabis on the spot.

The bill got a lot of pushback from people who have always been against marijuana, like Rep. Scott Cyrway, R-Albion, and the Maine Department of Public Safety. Both of these groups said that social clubs would lead to more drunk driving on Maine roads, which would cause more deaths.

Lawmakers Are Speculating Regarding Permitting Marijuana Social Clubs And Boosting Home Grow!

The Mills administration was not very enthusiastic about the bill. John Hudak, who is in charge of the Maine Office of Cannabis Policy, said that the bill doesn’t deal with problems that could come up, like how to stop people from overserving customers, driving while high, educating the public about how cannabis affects them and making sure employees are safe.

He said that the Mills administration is willing to work with Williams and the committee to improve the bill. He said that it is important to take full advantage of the economic opportunities that the recreational marijuana program offers, but that lawmakers should take their time to do this right.

“I urge the committee not to rush this process,” Hudak told lawmakers at a hearing on Monday. “Instead of trying to cram on-site consumption into the existing regulatory framework, I urge the committee not to rush this process.” He started by saying that he thought the proposed law was “entirely inadequate” as it was written.

Lawmakers Are Speculating Regarding Permitting Marijuana Social Clubs And Boosting Home Grow!

Rep. David Boyer, R-Poland, is a member of the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee. He wrote a second bill about cannabis clubs, and the committee will eventually hold a hearing on it. Boyer said that his bill, which hasn’t been printed yet, would let people smoke on the premises and wouldn’t restrict social club licenses to shops.

Boyer has come full circle at this point. Before he was elected to the state house in 2022, Boyer worked on Maine’s 2016 campaign to legalize marijuana and was the Maine spokesman for Marijuana Policy Project, where he lobbied on marijuana issues like social clubs.

From Three to Six Plants

Boyer is also the person behind L.D. 555, which would raise the number of plants that can be used for personal use from three to six. At a public hearing on the bill this month, Boyer said that the lower number of plants in the 2016 referendum question that was changed by the legislature was “a slap in the face” to Maine voters.

“Mainers have been able to grow cannabis for their own use for the last six years,” Boyer said at the hearing. “There may be some fights between neighbors from time to time, but the sky hasn’t fallen like some people said it would. We just want the Legislature to respect what the people of Maine want.”

Boyer said that with the current limit of three plants, there isn’t much room for error because Maine’s growing season is hard and hard to predict. When lawmakers asked Boyer if one consumer really needed six plants, he told them that each Mainer household can make 200 gallons of beer, which is about three bottles a day per person.

The Maine Municipal Association said that some of its members were worried about complaints about smells. It also said that research from the industry shows that even three fully grown marijuana plants can produce more smokeable marijuana than a person can legally have in Maine at one time.

Lawmakers Are Speculating Regarding Permitting Marijuana Social Clubs And Boosting Home Grow!

If Maine raised the number of plants for personal use to six, it would stay in the middle of the pack among the 20 adult-use states. There are no limits of as few as two plants per adult-use user in Maryland, Montana, and Vermont, and as many as 12 plants per adult-use user in Michigan.

Some states also limit how many plants each household can have. For example, no matter how many people live in a home, each Connecticut and Massachusetts household can only have 12 plants for adults to use. Boyer’s bill does not do this. Home cultivation is against the law in Illinois, New Jersey, and Washington.

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Sheela Sharma

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Sheela is a skilled and experienced writer with a deep passion for all things related to the CBD industry. She enjoys writing everything related to CBD and Marijuana. When she isn't writing she likes to watch tv series and listen to podcasts.

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