Last fall, voters in Maine passed a ballot initiative to legalize recreational marijuana. For all of 2017, the state's legislators worked to craft a deal that would implement recreational cannabis at some point in 2018. But now Maine's governor has thrown all that work away.
Maine Governor Paul LePage vetoed a bill today that would implement recreational marijuana sales in the state. LePage's veto wasn't entirely unexpected. He publicly opposed the initiative last fall and has been nothing but hostile towards any efforts to implement the new it. But there was some hope, as he'd said in the past that even though he doesn't support legalization, he also believes it should be left up to the voters.
In a letter explaining his veto, LePage said he was worried about how the Trump administration would enforce federal marijuana laws and was concerned it could cause a conflict between the national and state government. He also said he didn't think the new bill was compatible with Maine's existing medical marijuana laws.
This doesn't mean that the bill is dead. Legislators will meet on Monday and decide whether or not to override LePage's veto. Both the Maine Senate and House will need to vote to override the veto with a two-thirds majority. The original bill passed the Senate by that margin, but not in the House.
Regardless of whether or not the legislature overrides LePage's veto, Maine will still have to implement recreational marijuana at some point. Next November, Maine will elect a new governor (LePage has reached his term limit), and will almost certainly pick someone more open to cannabis.
But until then, Maine citizens will continue living in a state where marijuana is illegal and can only be purchased through the black market.
Also, everyone should thank LePage for waiting until the last possible day to veto the bill. That shows a lot of political courage!
(h/t National Post)