Governor Paul LePage failed to convince Maine voters that legalizing recreational marijuana would be a “deadly” disaster for the state. So now, the avowed Donald Trump supporter is trying to do away with medical marijuana.
Maine voters on Election Day appeared to narrowly approve Question 1, which legalizes two and a half ounces of cannabis and six mature plants for adults 21 and over. But with the margin of victory less than one percent of the vote, legalization opponents called for a recount.
Results from the recount, already delayed thanks to a lack of volunteers from the opposing side to help count, will now have to wait until 2017, as state election officials paused the process Friday for a two-week winter holiday break.
In the meantime, however, LePage is trying to convince the state legislature to change or do away with voter-approved initiatives he doesn’t like—and that includes voter-approved medical marijuana.
“Why do we need medical marijuana? I see no need,” he said Thursday, during an interview with news radio station WGAN. “You don’t need a prescription to buy a Bayer aspirin… why do you need a prescription to buy medical or recreational marijuana?”
Under Maine’s medical marijuana law, passed in 1999, qualified patients are allowed to possess up to two and a half ounces of medicinal cannabis, and either they or a designated caregiver are allowed to cultivate up to six plants. Medical marijuana patients also enjoy specific rights not enjoyed in other states, including protection from being denied housing, employment or custody of children solely for being a medical marijuana patient.
Supporters of legalization say that the recent legalization measure was clearly intended to create “dual [cannabis] programs running side by side,” according to WGME. That’s the situation in other legal states like Colorado and Oregon, where both medical and recreational dispensaries sell cannabis under slightly different rules.
Shutting down Maine’s system “wholesale” could harm “hundreds” of Maine businesses and leave “thousands” of patients without access to cannabis, said Paul McCarrier, president of pro-cannabis group Legalize Maine.
LePage’s distaste for marijuana appears to know no bounds.
In the fall, he appeared in a television ad in which he falsely claimed that cannabis legalization has led to a host of traffic deaths in other states, and that “people addicted to marijuana” are “three times” as likely to become addicted to heroin—a loaded charge in an area suffering from the opiate addition crisis (which, by the way, LePage blamed on black and Latino people from out of state).
When Maine voters didn’t buy that line, LePage went a step further and said he’d be “talking” to President-elect Donald Trump about the state’s marijuana issue. Trump, of course, has selected Alabama Sen. Jeff Sessions to run his Justice Department, and Sessions once famously declared that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
If that doesn’t help undo things, LePage will see if he can get the state legislature to undermine the will of the voters and gut medical marijuana, he said during his radio interview.
“If there ever were a bill that the legislature should just kibosh, that’s it,” he said—while adding, a breath later, that he’d ask the legislature to raise taxes on marijuana sales, should they decide to keep it around.
If you can’t beat it, use it as an ATM.
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