Maine Governor Paul LePage Vetoes Marijuana Regulation Bill

Maine's governor has vetoed a bill regulating the legal retail sale of marijuana.

In a letter explaining his veto, LePage said he was rejecting the bill because of the uncertainty surrounding legal recreational marijuana on a federal level, even as more states move forward toward regulating the retail sale of the plant.

He also cited issues within the bill regarding marijuana regulation.

"The drafters of this bill chose to ignore the significant effects that this new program -- one with different levels of regulatory oversight and a different tax structure -- will have on the existing medical marijuana program, its patients and the public health and safety of the Maine people," LePage wrote.

He also said he had reservations about expanding marijuana's legalization.

"The dangers of legalizing marijuana and normalizing its use in our society cannot be understated," he said, pointing out Maine's opioid crisis. "Sending a message, especially to our young people, that some drugs are still illegal under federal law are now sanctioned by the state may have unintended and grave consequences."

The Maine Legislature will return Monday to face this veto, and possibly another should LePage delay implementation of ranked-choice voting.

Observers had previously said it was unlikely LePage would have signed the marijuana bill into law because he has called it a gateway drug, but he said in 2014 that the choice should be left up to voters. The other option he had regarding this bill was letting it become law without his signature.

The bill that sets rules and taxes on marijuana passed with a two-thirds majority in the Senate, but not in the House. A two-thirds vote is necessary to override the veto.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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