In 2016 Maine voters approved a law to legalize and create a commercial marketplace for adult-use marijuana sales. The very conservative governor of Maine, Paul LePage vetoed the bill that lawmakers brought to him in 2017 to begin the process of establishing the marketplace, forcing them to go back to the drawing board. On Friday, Governor Paul LePage vetoed the second bill they brought to him, citing the same reasoning as before. He supports Jeff Sessions and refuses to support a law that his own people voted for due to the federal prohibition of marijuana.
In this new bill there is a provision that allows Maine’s legislators to overturn the veto, however there is skepticism that enough votes could be collected to overturn LePage’s veto. Not only did Governor LePage reference the national Schedule 1 status of marijuana as a reason to veto the bill but also made an unsupported claim that there has been a spike in car crash fatalities due to the legalization of cannabis in other states. He also suggested that everyone in Maine interested in marijuana would simply become medical marijuana patients to take advantage of the the lower taxes.
LePage, a staunch opponent of marijuana, said he doesn’t want Maine to operate two different marijuana programs – medical and adult-use – with two different tax rates and two different sets of rules, and raised concerns about the impact of marijuana impairment on traffic crashes. He also said he cannot “in good conscience” support a law that violates federal law because marijuana remains classified as a Schedule 1 drug.
In his veto letter, LePage once again criticized lawmakers for creating different regulatory structures and tax rates for medical marijuana and recreational marijuana. He also said that other states that have legalized recreational marijuana “have seen staggering increases in motor vehicle fatalities resulting from marijuana impairment.” He did not offer data to support this assertion.
“After one of the worst years in recent memory for crashes, fatalities and pedestrian fatalities, we should take every step to ensure safety on Maine roads instead of making them more hazardous,” LePage wrote. “No branch of government has a monopoly on a good idea; if Maine is going to legalize and regulate marijuana, it will require our joint efforts to get this important issue right.”
Now that for the foreseeable future there will be no adult-use marijuana market in Maine, many people are likely to head to Massachusetts this July for when recreational marijuana sales begin there. Do you think that Governor LePage has done a major disservice to his people both democratically and financially?