Maine Governor LePage Vetoes Marijuana Bill
The governor of Maine Paul LePage has vetoed the adult cannabis bill. The veto is in contrast with his campaign promise in 2014. The governor cited the Trump administration’s enthusiasm for enforcing federal law regarding marijuana as his reasoning behind the veto.
Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) wrote a letter saying that he also requested direction from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. LePage stated that “Until I clearly understand how the federal government intends to treat states that seek to legalize marijuana, I cannot in good conscience support any scheme in state law to implement expansion of legal marijuana in Maine.” He added that the state’s recreational cannabis legislation contradicts federal law, therefore putting Maine in conflict with the federal government.
LePage used the high rate of overdoses as another reason that marijuana shouldn’t be legalized. Maine has seen a steady increase of deaths resulting from opiate use, with a 40 percent rise in 2016. But recent studies indicate that legalizing marijuana saves lives and decreases opioid addiction. He also said that the bill has too many holes, including regulation and tax inconsistencies that make the bill perilous and expensive.
He went on to say that legalizing cannabis is dangerous and sends the wrong message to young folks by sanctioning a drug that is illegal federally. He made no mention of the fact that several former presidents grew hemp, but I digress.
Maine voted to legalize recreational marijuana in the 2016 election. Sen. Roger Katz (R) said that regardless of the veto, Maine voters have spoken, and marijuana will be legal in Maine. “The legalization ship has sailed, the people have spoken,” he said. “It’s not about whether you voted for legalization. I certainly didn’t vote for it. But that’s not what the bill is about. This bill is about taxing and regulating a market that the majority of Maine voters want, just like we do with alcohol, with tobacco. If we do not pass this bill, if we go back to an unchecked black market, we will go back to chaos. Who could want that?”
Maine and the rest of the country could earn a lot of tax revenue with the cannabis market. The research firm ArcView estimates that the cannabis industry could be worth $22 billion within 5 years.
Niko Mann is a freelance writer living in Los Angeles, California.