Maine Governor Vetoes Bill to Regulate Recreational Marijuana

Maine Governor Vetoes Bill to Regulate Recreational Marijuana

Flickr / Gage Skidmore / CC BY-SA 2.0

On Nov. 3, 2017, Maine Gov. Paul LePage vetoed LD 1650, a bill that would regulate recreational marijuana in the state. In his veto letter, LePage outlined three key concerns and urged legislators to come together and rework the bill.

His first issue with LD 1650 is that it conflicts with federal law. Ever an ardent critic of marijuana legalization, LePage explained that he does not want to sign off on any piece of marijuana legislation until he understands how the federal government intends to treat states that have legalized marijuana.

Next, LePage was concerned about the measure’s failure to harmonize the state’s medical and recreational markets. Without taking into consideration how the recreational and medicinal market would interact, LePage argued that the legislation could undermine any attempt to regulate the recreational market because the medical market would have lower taxes and a looser regulatory structure.

Finally, LePage took issue with the “bifurcated regulatory structure” created by the bill. With two departments in the Executive Branch responsible for overseeing the recreational market, there would be a strong possibility that administrative confusion and additional costs would make it difficult for the program to pay for itself.

“When I sought guidance from my counterpart in Colorado, he was adamant that Maine should learn from the mistakes made by his state and others that have pursued legalization efforts,” LePage wrote. “If Maine is going to legalize and regulate marijuana, it is imperative that we do it right.”

LD 1650 will now go back to the state legislature, where lawmakers will have the option to override the governor’s veto or let it stand. Given that the House was unable to pass the measure with a two-thirds majority, it is unlikely that the legislature will be able to overturn the veto.

While voters in Maine approved the initiative to legalize and regulate recreational marijuana on Nov. 8, 2016, many expected LePage to veto the measure.

William Sumner, a freelance writer and marijuana journalist, was a staff writer for MJINews from May 2014 through February 2018. You can follow him on Twitter @W_Sumner.

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