Lawmakers Vote Down Bill to Extend Ban on Retail Cannabis Sales as Moratorium Expires

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Maine's marijuana retail sales moratorium expired Thursday.

State lawmakers voted down a bill to extend it to this spring.

But despite the moratorium ending, Mainers can not get licenses to sell cannabis until the rulemaking process for its sales has been completed.

Possessing small amounts of marijuana for at-home use remains legal, but there's still no way to legally buy recreational cannabis.

The legislative panel tasked with drafting the extensive legislation regulating the adult-use market will resume its work Friday.

"So ultimately the Marijuana Implementation Committee is working on a bill right now. I suspect that there'll be a part of that bill that will be an extension of the moratorium until January 1, 2019, as we've long said needs to happen," said Rep. Ken Fredette, (R) House Republican Leader.

"We sent a short term bill because we wanted to finish our work, that was unanimous. That didn't pass in the House unfortunately. I certainly wanted to see that happen to give communities the understanding and the comfort around this time while we're working on it. But right now we'll go right back to work, we're going to address a number of the concerns people had in the last bill, try to address those and get a bill back out to the floors for a vote," said Rep. Teresa Pierce, (D) House Chair, Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee.

Due to the lengthy rulemaking process, it's likely that prospective marijuana retailers will not be able to get licensed until early next year.