Maine voters said YES to legal marijuana last year after months of promoting the voter initiative. This year 6 more months were spent on a bipartisan effort to establish exactly how the new industry would be run and regulated, but last week the governor of Maine used his veto to push back what he thinks the state is not ready for. Legislators will get back together in January and have another chance to regulate the industry how it deserves, but until then the state is left to rely on the black market. The voter passed law allows for adultss to possess and use up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis, but there are no systems in place for adults to purchase product. The Maine House attempted to reverse the governor's veto yesterday and while majority voted to do so (74-62), it takes a 2/3 majority to reverse a veto, leaving the House 17 votes short. It's clear after a majority of Maine voters chose to legalize on the ballot and now that a majority of legislators want the retail marijuana system to exist that Maine wants legal cannabis, but now it must wait a few more months to continue the discussion.
The bill was the result of more than nine months of work by a special committee tasked with implementing the law that voters narrowly approved last November, putting Maine among the eight states and the District of Columbia that had legalized the adult use of marijuana. The 74-62 vote Monday fell 17 votes short of the two-thirds margin required to overturn LePage’s veto.
The path forward for the ballot-box law remains unclear, with the current moratorium on recreational sales expiring Feb. 1. The Legislature reconvenes in January and could pass legislation then, but it’s uncertain whether the political dynamic will change enough in the next two months for an implementation law to be passed or the moratorium to be extended. If neither occurs, the ballot box law would take effect, a prospect that some lawmakers find alarming.