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Maine governor signs marijuana moratorium bill

[JURIST] Maine Governor Paul LePage [official website] on Friday signed the marijuana moratorium bill [text] into law, just three days before recreational marijuana becomes legal in Maine. The bill allows personal marijuana use but restricts retail sales for one year, at which time the governor and legislature will have had time to set out a proper regulatory structure for the drug. LePage, despite signing the bill, was displeased [WCSH report] with the legislature's failure to include two provisions: one providing for $1.6 million in funding for costs of creating rules and implementing law, and the other switching marijuana oversight from the state Department of Agriculture (ACF) to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations (BABLO) [official websites]. As a result, LePage issued an executive order delegating oversight of Marijuana from ACF to BABLO. LePage also stated "no rules will be promulgated until the Legislature allocates money to fund the rulemaking process." Though retail and commercial growing will not be allowed for another year, the bill provides that anyone over 21 may possess marijuana for personal use. The bill implicitly prohibits anyone under 21 from possessing marijuana and also provides that smoking marijuana while driving is illegal.

Marijuana legalization has been gaining momentum in the United States. In December, Massachusetts's governor also signed a bill delaying [JURIST Report] portions of the state's marijuana legalization initiative. In addition to Maine and Massachusetts, California and Nevada also voted [JURIST report] in November to legalize marijuana. In April Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf signed a bill [JURIST report] legalizing medical marijuana. In February the Utah Senate voted to advance a bill [JURIST report] that would legalize the use of medical marijuana in various forms such as vapor or edible form. Last November New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed two bills [JURIST report] in order to expedite the distribution of medical marijuana to citizens with critical health conditions. Earlier that month New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed [JURIST report] a bill into law that would allow for the administering of edible medical marijuana to sick and disabled children on school grounds without triggering the arrests of parents or educators.

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