Former State Rep. Diane Russell on Maine’s Cannabis Legalization Woes
On November 5, 2016, Maine’s voters legalized recreational, or adult-use, marijuana. At the time, the state’s legalization bill was one of the most progressive, which included protections for home growers, preservation of one of the nation’s best medical marijuana programs, and a social consumption clause that would’ve made Maine one of the first states to host licensed cannabis bars and lounges. But now we’re nearing the end of 2019, and Maine still hasn’t started its adult-use sales. Business licenses will soon be available, but when the state finally makes its first legal sale, it would have done so after a three-year delay. So, what happened in Maine? Why did it take so long to roll out its legalization program, and most importantly, how can the next states to legalize prevent similar setbacks? To find out, we spoke with one of the state’s most ardent cannabis backers, Diane Russell, who currently resides in Portland, Maine. From 2008 to 2016, Russell served as a state representative in Maine’s government. During her terms, she introduced two marijuana legalization bills, first in 2011 and again in 2013. Although her two bills didn’t make it through the legislature, she got people talking about legalization,…
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