Maine Gov. LePage Vetoes Cannabis Legalization at Last Minute

Gov. Paul LePage (Andrew Harnik/AP)

It appears Maine may not be launching an adult-use cannabis market after all, thanks to Gov. Paul LePage’s last-minute veto of the Legislature’s adult-use cannabis regulatory bill on Friday. The governor said in a signing statement that he could not support the expansion of legal cannabis in Maine while its future at the federal level remains so uncertain.

With LePage’s veto, the bill now goes back to Legislature, where advocates of the bill will on Monday try to pick up enough extra votes to override LePage’s veto, according to the Portland Press Herald.

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During a special session vote, the state Senate voted 22-9 in favor of the cannabis legalization bill. A vote along the same lines would secure the necessary two-thirds majority to override the veto and pass the bill within the Senate.

The House, however, voted 81-50 in favor of the bill. That margin wouldn’t be enough to override a veto, although it’s not clear how a repeat vote would turn out. Under Maine law, an override majority is two-thirds of legislators who are actually present for the vote, according to the Press Herald, meaning the number of votes needed to override LePage’s veto won’t be known until lawmakers show up.

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In a letter to the members of the Legislature, LePage wrote that he swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States. “When the referendum seeking to legalize marijuana passed, it put me in a difficult position: to uphold Maine law, I would be required to flout federal law.”

LePage added that he sought guidance from US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, a staunch opponent of both medical and adult-use cannabis, on how the federal government intends to treat state-level legalization.

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“The Obama administration said they would not enforce federal law related to marijuana; however, the Trump administration has not taken that position,” LePage wrote. “Until I clearly understand how the federal government intends to treat states that seek to legalize marijuana, I cannot in good conscience support any scheme in state law to implement expansion of legal marijuana in Maine.”

Maine Gov. Paul LePage Adult-Use Cannabis Veto Letter by Ben Adlin on Scribd