Maine’s Governor has thrown a monkey wrench into plans to implement a regulated cannabis industry in his state once again.
During the 2016 Election Maine voters approved a cannabis legalization initiative that called for the creation of a regulated cannabis industry.
A bill was passed by Maine’s Legislature that would have made legal adult-use cannabis sales a reality, however, Maine’s Governor vetoed the bill.
Lawmakers in Maine scrambled to try to override the veto but the effort was unsuccessful and time ran out before the session ended.
This year another bill was passed, yet Governor Paul LePage once again used his veto power. Now a political showdown is looming.
Why did Maine’s Governor veto the bill?
Maine’s Governor essentially hinged his veto on three things:
- Cannabis is still federally prohibited
- He does not want a separate adult-use cannabis industry framework and a medical cannabis industry framework
- He feels that regulated adult-use cannabis sales increases traffic fatalities
It’s worth noting that a recent study found that traffic fatalities have not increased as a consequence of legalization. Also, other states have implemented separate adult-use and medical cannabis systems with great success.
Governor LePage stated in his executive order that vetoed the industry regulation bill that Maine’s Legislature and his office need to work together to address the perceived issues.
The call for collaboration likely caught many Maine legislators off guard considering how long they have worked on the bill and how little cooperation they received from the Governor.
What happens next?
The original bill passed by veto-proof majorities, however, that does not mean that the bill will become law automatically.
Maine’s Legislature has to revisit the bill to see if Maine’s lawmakers will hold to their original vote, or if any legislators will flip their vote.
The big concern is that history will repeat itself, as last year several lawmakers switched their vote to sustain the veto.
Just because a particular lawmaker approved the bill the first time around does not mean that they won’t change their mind now that their Governor has made it clear that he wants them to support his position.
Maine lawmakers are set to begin the process of trying to override the veto starting on Wednesday.
What cannabis advocates in Maine can do to help override the veto
One has to assume that right now Governor LePage’s office is lobbying legislators that originally voted for the regulation bill to switch their votes.
It’s quite likely that lawmakers that originally opposed the bill are also lobbying their colleagues to try to get them to join their opposition.
The bill that was passed is much more limited compared to what voters approved, so opposition is coming from lawmakers that feel the original law needs to be upheld in addition to lawmakers that just outright oppose cannabis reform.
If you live in Maine, you need to contact your lawmakers to let them know that you wish to see a regulated adult-use cannabis industry in Maine. If your lawmakers originally voted yes on the bill, encourage them to maintain their vote.