AUGUSTA — A legislative committee continued working Wednesday on a bill aimed at fixing several problems in Maine’s new marijuana legalization law and potentially delaying retail sales of the drug.

There is bipartisan support on the Veterans and Legal Affairs Committee – as well as in the Legislature as a whole – for clarifying that only Mainers over age 21 will be allowed to legally possess marijuana for recreational use as of Jan. 30. Attorney General Janet Mills and other legal experts have suggested that the language of the ballot initiative passed by a slim majority of Maine voters in November would inadvertently remove all penalties for underage possession of marijuana.

Parties on all sides of the issue also hope to clarify the law when it comes to marijuana use within a motorized vehicle – whether a car, boat or other vehicle – and other issues before legalization. But Wednesday’s work session illustrated the complexity of integrating the new law into Maine’s existing statutes, even when there is strong bipartisan support. Committee members barely discussed the most controversial aspect of the bill: to give rulemakers an additional three months – until February 2018 – to craft rules and regulations governing retail sales of marijuana.

The committee plans to resume its work on the bill, L.D. 88, at 1 p.m. on Thursday and could meet again on Monday, according to committee co-chairman Sen. Garrett Mason, R-Lisbon Falls. Lawmakers are under pressure to address underage possession as well as other issues prior to Jan. 30.

After that, a new special committee charged with dealing exclusively with marijuana issues will tackle the other major issues and review dozens of pot-related bills that have been submitted by lawmakers.

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