Maine might be far away for many of you and seem like a non-factor in the marijuana legalization movement. But, it’s voters did approve adult-use marijuana and it has an established medical marijuana program. More importantly, Maine has a governor that is clearly showing the rest of the state governors around the country what not to do. Fortunately Maine’s other lawmakers have come to understand that Governor LePage is wrong to rail against his people and have overturned his most recent veto.
Maine’s lawmakers put L.D. 1539, a bill that would significantly expand the state’s medical marijuana program, on Governor LePage’s desk last week. LePage, as he has multiple times before, vetoed the bill and sent a letter with 11 reasons as to why. Those reasons included not wanting to have a fund that would be setup for medical marijuana research and allowing dispensaries to become for-profit businesses. The bill also now allows doctors in Maine to authorize patients to have access to medical marijuana for any reason the doctor sees fit, which LePage did not like either.
Nobody in Maine was surprised to see that LePage vetoed the bill since his stance on marijuana legalization is well known. He hates it. In 2016 Maine voters approved adult-use marijuana through a referendum question, however in Maine a voter approved referendum question does not mean that it must become law. Maine’s congress has put together multiple comprehensive bills to create a structured commercial cannabis market per voters’ obvious desires. Governor LePage has vetoed all of them.
So now lawmakers in Maine have taken a different approach. They went back to medical marijuana and started restructuring that legislation with a plan to build on it slowly. By creating a more conservative plan than one that includes recreational marijuana, it opened the door to the House of Representatives and the Senate’s willingness to overturn LePage’s vote. On Monday the Senate voted 25 to 8 to overturn LePage’s veto and the House of Representatives voted 119 to 23 to do the same.
Republican state Senator Eric Brakey said, “Maine’s medical cannabis program is already one of the best in the country. The passage of L.D. 1539 will make it even stronger. More access and choice for patients. More flexibility for legal businesses. And more integrity to the overall program.”
Like Attorney General Jeff Sessions, Maine Governor Paul LePage is simply prejudiced against cannabis. He may cite the Schedule 1 status of marijuana on the federal level as his reasoning for continuously going against his voters, but the truth is that more than half the country has legalized medical marijuana, 9 states plus D.C. have an adult-use market and President Trump has said he would back the STATES Act that would virtually legalize cannabis nationally. If he is concerned about federal backlash, that no longer makes sense.
L.D. 1539 will now expand Maine’s medical marijuana program to make it almost as permissive as Oklahoma’s new medical marijuana program. It is set to go into law 90 days after the current legislative session comes to an end. Why do you think that Governor LePage is so against medical and adult-use cannabis?