July 11, 2018, Maine
Great news has come from Maine for cannabis activists where legislators have overturned Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of MMJ expansion bill, known as L.D. 1539. The state’s House of Representative has overturned the LePage’s veto of the bill with an overwhelming majority of 119-23. The Senate has also voted 25-8 to overturn the veto. Both chambers of the legislature have voted on the question ‘shall L.D. 1539 become a part of the legislation albeit the governor’s objections?’
L.D. 1539 entails a wide-ranging expansion of Maine’s medical cannabis program. At the end of this 3-month legislative session, the bill will remove the constriction of qualifying list from the program. This means patients would be eligible to use medical cannabis with a doctor’s recommendation regardless of the disease they are suffering from.
In addition, the bill permits the establishment of six new MMJ dispensaries. Manufacturing and processing facilities will also be integrated into the state’s medical marijuana program, according to the proposed bill. L.D. 1539 would also allow the expansion of caregiver’s operations but through stricter provisions.
Deborah Sanderson, a Republican representative, was the main sponsor of the bill. She is pleased with the legislature’s effort on overturning the Governor’s veto. She has told media that the lawmakers have rescinded LePage’s objection after a thorough review of the bill and the situation under existing laws.
According to Sanderson, the House’s Health and Human Services Committee has comprehensively assessed the state’s medical cannabis laws from all angles. The committee has reviewed the on the ground situation of the entire period of MMJ legislation as well. And finally, it has come up with a well-worked proposition in the form of L.D. 1539.
Maine’s MMJ industry is also celebrating the overturning of LePage’s veto. A legal counsel of the state’s caregivers, Amanda Melnick, applauded the legislative’s work to withhold the expansion of MMJ program. She thinks that an overwhelming support of the House is reflective of the fact that lawmakers have started to understand the nuances of medical cannabis operations.
It is worth mentioning that LePage vetoed the bill because he thought the expansion of caregivers’ operations (allowing retail fronts and cannabis extraction) would be dangerous at this point in time. It is important to note that the governor was really quick in vetoing the bill. The legislator passed the bill in last week of June and he vetoed the bill within two weeks.
A substantial opposition to the expansion of the MMJ program exists outside the legislature. For instance, the director of an anti-legalization group, Scott Gagnon has termed the removal of condition list a move made on bogus information. Gagnon represents Smart Approaches to Marijuana Maine.
He asserts that not enough research validates the comprehensive therapeutic benefits of cannabis. In the absence of scientific backing, taking out the qualifying condition list from the program can’t be deemed as a judicious move. On the other hand, the majority of lawmakers believe that the bill L.D. 1539 will further improve the state’s medical marijuana program.