AUGUSTA, Maine — The Maine Legislature missed its goal for wrapping up its session Wednesday as lawmakers worked late to pass online sports betting and a regulatory framework needed to allow adults to buy recreational marijuana.
Lawmakers didn’t actually adjourn until around 6:45 a.m. Thursday.
Several of the session’s biggest bills touch on issues long blocked under the previous Republican administration, including allowing marijuana sales approved by voters, requiring the use of a hands-free device to access a cellphone while driving, and boosting the solar industry.
There was no drama regarding the two-year state budget totaling nearly $8 billion. It already was approved and signed by the governor. Lawmakers were unable to agree on a bond package to invest in renewable energy, infrastructure, broadband expansion, and workforce training, though the Legislature could still act before August to get bonds on the ballot.
Of the many high-profile bills passed in the middle of the night, the Legislature voted to allow the sale of legalized recreational marijuana as early as next year.
Voters first legalized recreational marijuana for adult use in 2016, and adults over 21 can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
But the process of crafting regulations has been time-consuming. The state’s rules are designed to allow municipalities to opt in or out of allowing sales.