“It’s not easy to become a law, is it?” Depending how old you were or where you got schooling or your dope intake and its effect on your memory, you might or might not remember that Schoolhouse Rock cartoon that explained to kids (and a lot of adults) just how a bill gets turned into a law.
The bill that is the topic of this article would have regulated the retail sale of cannabis across the great state of Maine. And it’s even a bit more complicated than the story of the cartoon bill seen above.
It came as a result of last year’s ballot proposal, in which the voters of Maine passed a measure to legalize the sale of recreational cannabis in the state. Then a bill was drafted to regulate these legal cannabis sales, which the State Senate passed with a two-thirds majority. But then Governor Paul LePage vetoed the bill, as reported by The Cannabist and the Associated Press.
LePage said his reasons for stopping the bill were a fear of federal interference and a feeling that the state’s cannabis regulations were not fully thought through. “The Obama administration said they would not enforce federal law related to marijuana; however, the Trump administration has not taken that position,” LePage wrote in an open letter. “Until I clearly understand how the federal government intends to treat states that seek to legalize marijuana, I cannot in good conscience support any scheme in state law to implement expansion of legal marijuana in Maine.”
LePage said some advice from fellow Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado also factored into the decision. Hickenlooper, he said, “was adamant that Maine should learn from the mistakes made by his state and others that have pursued legalization efforts. He urged that we take the time necessary to get our law right from the start and not rush just to get something in place. There have been serious negative effects of legalization in other states — effects that should not be repeated in Maine.”
The bill will now return to Congress where it needs a two-thirds majority to override the veto. If passed, legal sales would begin in 2019. For now, cannabis is legal to grow or possess in Maine, but not to sell.
Photo via Flickr user Brett Levin