By Michael Bachara
Last Friday, Gov. Paul LePage followed through on threats to veto legislation that would have started the process of implementing a regulated cannabis market that Maine voters called for when they approved Question 1 in 2016.
The progressive bill, LD 1650, which was supported overwhelmingly in the House and Senate, would have created rules for cultivation, processing, and retail establishments, as well as set tax rates for adult-use and delay cannabis social consumption lounges until summer 2019.
LD 1650, the product of nearly seven months of transparent deliberations in the legislature which included input from a variety of stakeholders and concerned residents, has been denied. Gov. LePage and House Minority Leader Ken Fredette (R-Newport) attempted to circumvent this legislation by introducing a bill to officially delay cannabis retail sales until 2019, but it was defeated in late October.
According to David Boyer, Marijuana Policy Project’s Maine political director and campaign manager, “Gov. LePage has made a mistake by vetoing this legislation. Instead of a regulated and controlled system of marijuana cultivation and sales, Maine will continue to support the unregulated market. In 2014, the governor said he would implement a legalization law if approved by voters, but he has failed to uphold that commitment.
On Election Day 2016, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, and California all approved ballot initiatives to make marijuana legal and regulated for adults. Of those four states, Maine has made the least amount of progress in implementing its legalization policy.
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