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Maine Legislature Fails to Override Governor's Veto of Recreational Marijuana

Last week, Maine Governor Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would implement recreational marijuana in the state in the near future. But the bill wasn't entirely dead, because the state's legislature would have a chance to override the veto and allow implementation to proceed.

Well, it's dead now.

The Maine House failed to override LePage's veto yesterday, the last possible day to do so. The veto override actually received a majority of votes, 74 to 62, but state law requires a two-thirds majority to override the governor, meaning they were 17 votes short.

The big issue now is what will happen with Maine's recreational marijuana laws. Voters in the state legalized recreational cannabis last fall, and the ballot initiative gave a deadline of February 1st for the state government to create a regulatory framework for the industry. The bill vetoed by LePage was the most comprehensive and thoroughly researched plan for allowing recreational marijuana to become law.

The state legislature will re-convene in January to figure out what to do about recreational marijuana. There are three options on the table for then: 1. Pass a new bill to regulate the industry that the governor will sign, 2. Extend the moratorium on recreational marijuana to give them more time to work on a bill, or 3. Don't pass either bill and recreational marijuana will become legal on February 1st with no regulatory framework in place. 

The big factor in what happens in January revolves around LePage. The governor was against the initiative last fall to legalize recreational marijuana, and has more or less vowed to not implement the law no matter what. It comes down to whether or not pro-cannabis legislators in Maine call LePage's bluff and promise not to extend the moratorium, thus forcing the governor to either sign a bill that will regulate the industry or just let it go legal February 1st. 

The biggest issue is now many investors are going to be put off from putting their money in the Maine marijuana industry due to the uncertainty revolving regulations. So LePage's veto may somewhat sabotage the industry before it even begins, something that he would no doubt be happy about.

Ironically, LePage has said in the past he believes marijuana legalization should be left in the hands of voters. Apparently he only believes that when the voters all follow his old-fashioned beliefs.

(h/t Press Herald)


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