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Maine cannabis regs draft pushes back sales start, ups sales tax to 20 percent

AUGUSTA, Maine — A legislative committee wants to double the recreational marijuana sales tax to 20 percent, allow drive-thru sales and let medical marijuana dispensaries be run as for-profit entities.

The Maine Legislature’s marijuana legalization committee will consider the draft marijuana bill released Tuesday when it convenes later this month.

The Maine committee had previously supported adding a 10 percent excise tax on business owners who sell marijuana on top of the 10 percent sales tax.

Committee co-chair Democratic Rep. Teresa Pierce said the tweak was due to the committee’s lack of taxing expertise.

Legalize Maine President Paul McCarrier said tax hikes will empower the black market. But he said Maine would get the most tax revenue from a sales tax.

The legislation would allow the state’s Department of Administrative and Financial Services to enforce the law, as it does for alcohol in its Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations.

Regulation of cultivation, manufacturing, testing, packaging and labeling would fall under the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Lawmakers said they’ll likely postpone legalization of recreational marijuana sales until February at the earliest. And marijuana social clubs wouldn’t be authorized until June 2018.