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Maine’s Governor LePage Vows To Veto Bill Regulating Cannabis Sales

Staunchly anti-legalization, Maine’s Governor LePage vows to veto bill regulating cannabis sales. Will his views be enough to stop it though?

A.J. Herrington

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Maine's Governor LePage Vows To Veto Bill Regulating Cannabis Sales

Maine’s Governor LePage vows to veto bill regulating cannabis sales in the state, it was revealed this week. But that might not be enough to stop the measure. The Maine House of Representatives passed the bill last week by a vote of 112-34. That margin is enough to override a LePage veto.

The Senate is currently considering the compromise law and is expected to give its final approval later this week.

It Wouldn’t Be the First Time

Maine’s voters legalized cannabis for adult use in 2016. But last year, LePage vetoed the bill lawmakers had passed to create a legal market. A special legislative committee took up the issue again this year. Their bill is a compromise between the referendum passed by voters and the continued prohibition sought by staunch opponents of legal marijuana.

Opponents of the compromise bill believe the legislature should not approve state measures that are against federal law.

“If the citizens were to do a referendum to legalize heroin, do we then have an obligation to make the heroin law, a better law?” asked House Minority Leader Ken Fredette, a Republican from Newport.

Lawmakers believe that what they have come up with this time is better than the grey market the state has now, where pot is legal but buying it isn’t. Democrat Theresa is a member of the Maine House of Representatives from Falmouth and co-chaired the committee. She told local media that “the status quo just isn’t what we should be doing.”

The new bill continues to permit home cannabis cultivation, but the number of flowering plants allowed is reduced from to six to three.

Also, the measure passed by voters included provisions to allow for the creation of social clubs permitting onsite consumption of marijuana. This year’s compromise eliminates that language from the bill.

Legislatures also removed a proposed cap on production for licensed cultivators.

Cannabis activist Paul McCarrier is the president of advocacy group Legalize Maine. He said that failing to limit production will allow tobacco companies to control the state’s marijuana market.

“We don’t believe that they should be the ones to try to come in here and take this industry over,” McCarrier said.

Final Hit: Maine’s Governor LePage Vows To Veto Bill Regulating Cannabis Sales

If, as expected, the Senate passes the bill later this week, Gov. LePage will have ten days to act. He has three options, one of which would be to sign the act into law. His second choice is to do nothing, and the bill would go into effect after 10 days.

He can also veto the measure as he has threatened. If he does, the legislature can vote again to override the veto with a two-thirds majority in both houses.

If the bill is successful, regulators will begin creating the rules that will govern Maine’s recreational cannabis market. The first legal retail sales could then be made as soon as 2019. Even if LePage is slow to implement the plan eventually passed by the legislature, he will leave office early that year. Then his successor would be responsible for rolling out the state’s legal cannabis system.

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