It’s marijuana Monday in Maine.
Today, Maine joins seven other states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, despite federal prohibitions on the drug.
The road to legalization in Maine was bumpy, starting with two competing initiatives and a legal challenge to getting the referendum question on the November ballot. After legalization was approved in a close vote the opponents requested a recount, but after two weeks of hand-counting ballots there was no change in the outcome.
The state is entering a rapidly growing industry expected to reach $21 billion in sales by 2021. Last year, North American consumers spent $6.9 billion on legal cannabis products, up 34 percent from 2015, according to a new report from Arcview Market Research.
The transition to legal pot has not always gone smoothly in other states, and Maine lawmakers rushed to address several potential flaws in the voter-approved law before it took effect. On Friday, Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill unanimously approved by the House and Senate to close a loophole that could have allowed people under age 21 to legally possess marijuana. The legislation also prohibits the consumption of marijuana while in a vehicle in operation and delays the start of retail sales until February 2018, giving agencies more time to craft and implement rules governing the industry. [Read more at Portland Press-Herald]
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