Lawmakers voted to override Gov. LePage’s veto of legal marijuana sales but fell short of the two-thirds needed.
Governor Paul LePage’s veto of recreational marijuana sales was upheld after lawmakers failed to gather enough votes to override it.
Last year, Maine voters approved Question 1 and legalized the sale of recreational marijuana. After lawmakers spent the better part of a year working out the regulations, LePage derailed their progress with his veto.
While campaigning in 2014, LePage claimed that he would respect the will of the people if they were to legalize marijuana sales. He sang a different tune late last week.
“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 wrote in a statement last week.
It is unclear if and when recreational marijuana sales will start in Maine. Lawmakers will return from recess in January and new conversations on regulating sales could begin, but it may not be likely that the political climate will change by then. If LePage is waiting on the White House and U.S. Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, to give the green light then it will likely be a long wait.
Now an entire industry, jobs, and potential tax revenues have been thrown off course. Recreational marijuana exists in a confusing state of flux.
“I feel like we legalized gasoline, but not gas stations,” said Rep. Martin Grohman.
State Senator Roger Katz, who wrote many of the regulations vetoed by LePage, was unsure where the legislature would go from here. “You know, 74-62 is a good victory in a basketball game, but it’s not enough to overcome a veto,” Katz said after the vote. “We will regroup and we will sit around and try to figure out where the heck we go from here, and I hope somebody has some bright ideas because right now I don’t have any.”
Katz is hoping lawmakers can come up with a system soon so that buyers do not turn to the black market. By preventing legal marijuana sales “we are driving people to the illegal dealer on the street corner.”