Maine Marijuana Program in Jeopardy
There is now a distinct possibility that Maine’s recreational marijuana implementation bill could be shot down.
According to a report from the Portland Press-Herald, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette has said that he will likely oppose a bill that a special legislative committee has been working on for months in an attempt to hash out the details of the state’s legal marijuana market.
The state’s House leader says the current proposal, which has been nine months in the making, attempts to tackle too many issues at one time.
“This is an all-or-nothing bill, which makes me uncomfortable,” Fredette told the news source. “When you have a bill like this, it makes it easy to find the one, two or three things in the bill you don’t like and makes it more likely you will vote against the bill.”
Although Governor Paul LePage has said a number of times that he wishes the federal government would intervene and crack down on state sanctioned marijuana markets, it is not clear whether he plans to support or veto the implementation measure if it reaches his desk later this year.
“If LePage vetoes the bill, the votes in Fredette’s caucus likely would be the difference between whether the veto is sustained or overridden,” journalist Scott Thistle explains. “A two-thirds majority of lawmakers is needed to both pass the measure as an emergency bill that would go into effect before January, and to overcome a LePage veto.”
If the bill does not pass, the language of the original initiative, which was approved by the majority of the voters in last year’s election, would become law. This means some of the amenities butchered from the proposal last week, like drive through pot sales, would become part of the state’s retail pot market.
Of course, this concerns key legislative forces.
“I hope my colleagues in the Legislature will support this bill,” House Speaker Sara Gideon said in a statement. “Failing to do so would be irresponsible, as the legislation addresses numerous issues within the existing law.”
A recreational marijuana initiative was passed last year by a narrow margin -- 50.2 percent voted in favor of the measure, while 49.8 opposed.