For the second time this year, Maine Governor Paul LePage vetoed a bill on Friday that was intended to establish a system to regulate adult-use cannabis cultivation and sales in the state. In January, LePage denied the passage of LD 1650.
“In Maine, doctors cannot legally prescribe marijuana to patients; they only ‘certify’ its use,” wrote LePage in his veto letter. “Possession of any amount of marijuana under federal law is a misdemeanor crime. In 2011, I took an oath to support the Constitution of the United States, and I cannot in good conscience support a law that, on its face, violates federal law.”
The governor went on to express his dissatisfaction with the current state medicinal cannabis in Maine, stating that the authors of LD 1719 chose to disregard the effects that a recreational program would have on medicinal marijuana.
“As I have stated previously, a concurrent medical program with weaker regulation and a lower tax rate will undermine the regulations established by this bill,” continued LePage. “The two programs must be fully integrated. In the run-up to the 2016 referendum, the medical program saw a significant increase in the number of registered caregivers, as well as the exploitation of loopholes in medical marijuana regulations to broaden the sales base for medical marijuana, which has a much lower tax rate.
Under the bill, recreational cannabis would be taxed at a rate of 20% where medical marijuana is taxed 5.5% for flower and 8% for edibles.
The governor goes on to claim that in the years since cannabis legalization started making its way across the country, the legal states have experienced “staggering increases in motor vehicle fatalities resulting from marijuana impairment.”
Currently, there are conflicting reports concerning auto accident rates in legalized marijuana states, and whether or not there is a direct association with cannabis legalization.
“After one of the worst years in recent memory for crashes, fatalities, and pedestrian fatalities, we should take every step to ensure safety on Maine roads instead of making them more hazardous,” wrote Lepage toward the end of his letter. “No branch of government has a monopoly on good ideas; if Maine is going to legalize and regulate marijuana, it will require our joint efforts to get this important issue right.”
LS 1719 will now return to the Maine Legislature where they will have one final chance to override Governor LePage’s veto.