May 03, 2018, Maine
It’s very unusual for a legislature to overrule the decisions of Governors or Presidents. However, this rare event has just happened in Maine where the state lawmakers have overruled the Governor’s veto of a proposed legislation intended to legalize the sales of recreational cannabis.
Maine’s Republican Governor LePage has always maintained that he would rescind any marijuana-related bill ending up on his desk. But this time around, both chambers of Maine legislature joined hands to override the Governor’s veto.
According to the state’s constitution, a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate can override a gubernatorial veto. Yesterday, the state lawmakers from both legislative chambers easily fulfilled this requirement, which is quite challenging otherwise.
In Maine’s House of Representative, 109 lawmakers voted in favor of overriding the Governor’s veto and 39 voted against it. Meanwhile in the Senate, the margin was better where 28 senators voted in favor and 8 voted against the overruling of LePage’s decision.
The House had approved the bill with the margin of 112-34. This overwhelming majority gave the legislators a confidence to move with overriding the governor’s veto. It is worth mentioning that the voters approved the legalization of adult-use cannabis market three years ago and this legislative triumph is significant for respecting and implementing the voters’ decision.
In February, LePage showed some flexibility on his anti-cannabis stance when he agreed to provide some provisional leniency to MMJ patients. He announced that he would wait for a couple of months before implementing the newly devised strict MMJ regulations. He approved of this new MMJ guideline, but he didn’t want to make things difficult for patients by implementing the rules overnight.
In contrast, LePage doesn’t provide any concession to the recreational market. In the past, he vetoed a more comprehensive recreational legalization bill. This bill was passed by the state House with a very narrow margin. That law would have permitted marijuana clubs for public consumption, allowed the residents to grow up to six cannabis saplings and put a production cap to facilitate small and local businesses.
The current bill, however, only allows the cultivation of three marijuana plants while eliminating the provisions of production cap and public consumption.
It is important to note that many administrative provisions are yet to be decided and LePage is the in charge of setting up this process. Administrative provisions include the issues of licensing, inspection, taxation, and law enforcement. No recreational market can be set up without putting all these administrative provisions in place. So, LePage can delay the commencement of recreational market by simply doing nothing.
The recreational bill has been passed amid the opioid epidemic that took 400 lives in Maine last year. Many legalization proponents say that they are endorsing the bill because it can help in curbing the devastation of opioid.
With the override of the veto, it has become clear that adult-use cannabis in Maine is a reality now. However, the incumbent governor can postpone the manifestation of this reality until the end of his term.
Marijuana stays in the news, and Alice is always ready to keep us updated. A world traveler and lover of freedom, Alice knows what is going on, no matter where she roams. She specializes in marijuana legalization stories across the globe, with up to date... [read more]