Maine: Governor Vetoes Retail Implementation Bill

Augusta, ME: Republican Gov. Paul LePage on Friday vetoed legislation that sought to regulate the production and retail sales of cannabis to adults. Lawmakers had approved the legislation by a vote of 85 to 50 in the House and by a vote of 22 to 9 in the Senate during a one-day special session in October.

Governor LePage said that he “cannot in good conscience support any scheme in state law to implement expansion of legal marijuana in Maine” as long as cannabis remains federally illegal. The Governor’s veto reverses a campaign pledge where he indicated that he would support the enactment of adult use regulation if it was approved by a voter referendum.

On Monday, November 6, members of the Maine House let the Governor’s veto stand. Under state law, two-thirds of lawmakers in both chambers are necessary to override a gubernatorial veto.

A majority of Maine voters decided last November in favor of a statewide initiative legalizing the adult use, retail production, and licensed sale of marijuana. Governor LePage lobbied against the measure and in January lawmakers passed emergency legislation delaying the enactment of many of its provisions until February 2018. Since that time, the Governor has refused to work with lawmakers with regard to how to regulate marijuana sales and other provisions of the law.

NORML Executive Director Erik Altieri strongly criticized the Governor’s veto, stating: “This stonewalling will only ensure the prolonged existence of a criminal black market in Maine and deny the state coffers of needed tax revenue.”

Lawmakers are now expected to debate separate legislation seeking to extend the state’s existing moratorium beyond February 2018.

For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.