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Waiting in Maine

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Generally, the enactment of legalization laws takes time. Often, a lot of time. Progress is counted in years, with the rare exception of a state like Oklahoma.

At the other extreme we have a state like Maine. Voters there approved adult-use legalization in November of 2016. An obstructionist governor, delays and legal battles all combined to make sure Maine does not have an adult-use industry to this day. And while the news as of late has been trending toward adult-use sales sometime this spring, it’s looking like another delay will push sales even farther into the future.

Although June has been mentioned as the new timeline, predictions at this point really don’t matter. There will be excuses and reasons why licensing and reviews are taking so long. There will be claims that this is a very complicated issue that needs to be “done right”.

The clichés about the differences between words and actions are plentiful for a reason. Words can be used to delay action or justify delays almost indefinitely. But the underlying problem and the results stay the same.

When it comes to enacting laws, there is little incentive for those who oversee the enacting to do a good job. If marijuana legalization of some sort takes longer than many think it should to be put into place, what is really going to happen?

Writers like me will write articles like this, expressing outrage. Podcasts will be recorded and email blasts will go out, but in the end, the very incompetence that brought about prohibition in the first place is overseeing its dismantling.

If a government agency screws something up, you can’t just go to their competitor. If things take longer than you think they should regarding a certain issue, you have little recourse other than some vague plans to vote for someone else for an office that may have some power over what people are hired in a particular agency.

What is happening in Maine is the epitome of legalization in general: a long time to get to a heavily restricted and regulated version of legalization that in no way will allow the full potential of a legal cannabis industry.

And, as I’ve said before, most of us will accept it because it is so much better than prohibition. A little of a good thing is better than none at all, and cannabis consumers in Maine may get to put that theory to the test one of these days.

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