Public hearings held on five marijuana industry bills

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AUGUSTA, Maine (WABI) - Even though voters approved the sale of recreational marijuana in 2016, Mainers still aren't able to buy it at stores.

The fastest timeline would see stores open this summer, but that's far from certain.

State lawmakers, though, held public hearings Monday on five bills aimed at bettering the system for when it does start up.

State Sen. Dave Miramant, D-Camden, sponsored two of them, including one allowing medical marijuana stores to also sell recreational.

"They're getting by, they'll stay getting by," said Miramant. "But if going to offer a recreational market, why shouldn't they be able to, right in that stores side-by-side, be able to offer that product? Because they'll know so much about that product."

Other bills presented covered testing as well as allowing for recreational marijuana deliveries.

"I think delivery is something that definitely should be available to the people of the state of Maine," said Paul T. McCarrier, owner of 1 Mill, a medical marijuana caregiver dispensary in Belfast. "As has been said, you can deliver all sorts of other substances. You can deliver all sorts of other products. It's just an example of reefer madness and this fear that delivery is going to happen. But I have news for these politicians, delivery is already happening."

McCarrier favors the proposed bills that were presented Monday.

"It's imperative to do it right," said McCarrier. "You don't want to build a house on a bad foundation, and right now we have a bad foundation. And so we need to make substantial changes to these adult-use cannabis laws to make sure the foundation is strong so we can build a strong house on top of it."

But State Sen. Scott Cyrway, R-Albion, is concerned about deliveries and testing, and wants to make sure under-21's aren't getting their hands on it.

"It should be regulated," said Cyrway. "It should be regulated properly.And here we are putting out an illicit drug just like the Old West, and we're wondering what's going to happen to our kids and our adults."

Proponents say that the rollout has already taken much too long, and they hope that any of these bills, if passed, would not make that any longer.