The fight to legalize an adult-use industry does not end after a successful vote.
Maine is a prime example of that.
Maine was one of four states to approve adult-use cannabis legalization on Election Day in 2016, with California, Nevada, and Massachusetts being the other three.
Unlike the other three states, Maine has yet to pass cannabis industry regulations.
Nevada began adult-use sales last year, California began sales at the start of this year, and Massachusetts is expected to begin legal adult-use sales this summer.
What’s happening with Maine?
Maine voters approved a mandate for the state to implement a regulated adult-use cannabis industry, yet that has yet to happen.
In order to determine what the hold up is, all people need to do is look towards Maine’s anti-cannabis Governor Paul LePage.
Governor LePage continues to go against will of Maine voters
Maine’s legislature passed industry regulations last year via LD 1650.
Unfortunately, Governor LePage vetoed the bill at the time, citing that cannabis is illegal at the federal level, among other concerns.
“We need assurances that a change in policy or administration at the federal level will not nullify [the industry],” LePage wrote at the time according to Bangor Daily News.
Lawmakers in Maine’s legislature tried to override the veto at the time but fell short of the necessary votes required to do so.
All eyes then moved towards this year’s legislative session in Maine, with legislators tweaking legislation in an attempt to address Governor LePage’s concerns, which was not an easy task given the inconsistent concerns provided by LePage.
A bill was passed by Maine’s legislature by a significant margin (LD 1719), but lawmakers are likely to run into a familiar roadblock once the bill reaches the Governor’s desk.
LePage vows to veto the new legislation
Even before LD 1719 has reached Governor LePage’s desk he has vowed to veto it.
The reason provided by Governor LePage revolves around medical cannabis.
“My point is put it all under one. You don’t need medical anymore. If marijuana is legal, you can have medical, agricultural, retail, you can make beer with marijuana if you want. If it’s legal, it’s legal – so why do you need to have medical?” Lepage said, according to WGME.
According to an analysis conducted by Press Herald, ‘LePage would have to change the minds of as many as 12 lawmakers in the House but only two in the Senate to have his veto sustained.’
A change of heart by lawmakers in Maine is not unheard of when a Governor veto is involved.
Fellow Republicans in Maine’s legislature could change their votes in order to sustain LePage’s veto. Whether that will happen or not, only time will tell.
What people can do to help ensure Maine gets the adult-use industry it voted for
Maine deserves to have an adult-use industry in addition to a medical industry.
LePage’s claims that consumers will not support an adult-use industry because they will gravitate towards the medical industry is not supported by trends in other states that have gone before Maine, for better or worse.
Medical cannabis programs have retracted in states that have implemented adult-use cannabis sales for various reasons.
The situation in Maine is a prime example of why advocates and entrepreneurs need to keep the pressure on their elected officials even after a successful legalization vote.
If you live in Maine, now is the time to contact your legislators and demand that they override Governor LePage’s professed veto.
If enough lawmakers vote to override the veto, then Maine will get the adult-use industry that it voted for.