Crown Politics

LePage veto fails, clearing way for recreational pot sales in Maine

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine lawmakers overrode Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of an an adult-use marijuana regulatory bill on Wednesday, putting the state on track to regulate a retail market that has been in limbo since voters legalized recreational marijuana use in 2016.

The proposal that survived the Republican governor’s pen was Maine’s second attempt to create a framework for the system after a veto of an earlier bill was upheld in 2017, sending a special committee that was convened to handle the issues back to rehash the issue.

This year’s bill, which was sponsored by Rep. Teresa Pierce, D-Falmouth, will set an effective tax rate of 20 percent on marijuana products, give Mainers priority for commercial licenses and set health and safety standards for the market, which may not open until 2019.

It passed the Legislature easily last month, but as expected, LePage vetoed it. In a letter, the governor cited marijuana’s federally illegal status and his perception that the latest bill didn’t do enough to integrate recreational and medical marijuana programs as reasons for the veto.

The Maine House of Representatives voted 109-39 to override LePage’s veto and the Maine Senate overrode it in a 28-6 vote. Few see the new law as perfect, but it is seen by most lawmakers as the only politically feasible way to regulate the recreational market approved narrowly by voters in a 2016 referendum.

The Fiddlehead Focus/St. John Valley Times is pleased to feature content from our sister company, Bangor Daily News. To read the rest of “LePage veto fails, clearing way for recreational pot sales in Maine,” an article by contributing Bangor Daily News staff writer Michael Shepherd, please follow this link to the BDN online.

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