- The Washington Times - Tuesday, November 7, 2017

A bill establishing a legal framework for selling recreational marijuana in the state of Maine has met its demise after lawmakers sustained Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of legislation regulating retail weed sales.

Maine’s House of Representatives voted 74-62 on Monday in support of the Republican governor’s veto, slashing the odds of recreational marijuana sales starting in the Pine Tree State early next year as previously expected.

Residents of Maine voted last November to legalize recreational marijuana and establish a system for licensing, taxing and tracking pot sales, spurring lawmakers in the state House and Senate to spend the last nine months writing a bill, LD 1650, implementing the referendum result by starting retail weed sales in February 2018.

The bill passed both the state House and Senate last month, but Mr. LePage vetoed it on Friday, November 3, sending it back to the House this week for Monday’s vote.

Maine’s legislature stands a chance of drafting and passing another bill establishing a framework for regulating retail marijuana sales when they reconvene in January 2018, but lawmakers will be working against the clock if they intend to get a system off the ground in February as previously expected.

Mainers have legally been able to grow and posses limited amounts of cannabis since this past February as a result of last year’s vote, but buying the plant from anywhere other than a licensed medical dispensary remains against the law absent a framework for regulating retail sales.

The bill drafted by special legislative committee and vetoed by the governor would have set up a system for licensing marijuana growers, manufacturers, retailers and testers, creating a state-regulated marijuana marketplace notwithstanding the federal government’s prohibition on pot.

“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,” Mr. LePage wrote in a letter explaining his veto, adding he’s personally sought guidance from U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

Twenty-nine states and the nation’s capital have legalized medical marijuana, Maine included. Nine of those, including Washington, D.C., have also passed laws legalizing recreational marijuana, beginning with Colorado in 2012.

Colorado became the first state to allowing recreational marijuana sales starting in 2014, and four others have since followed suit: Oregon, Alaska, Nevada and Washington state. California and Massachusetts are currently slated to join that list in 2018.

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