Paul LePage, the governor of Maine, has done nearly everything in his power to sabotage marijuana legalization.
He’s lied, calling marijuana a gateway drug, that also happens to be deadly. He’s obfuscated, vetoing a bill to regulate cannabis sales — which, again, a majority of voters in his state want — not once, but on two occasions. He then spread misinformation, again, but this time in a manner that threatened a constitutional crisis.
And after all that, LePage has lost, marijuana has won. Cannabis will be sold, openly, in retail establishments in Maine, maybe as soon as next year.
Maine was one of the four states where voters approved a marijuana legalization ballot initiative on Election Night 2016, while at the same time approving — in theory — taxed and regulated retail sales. In the time since, LePage — a self-described staunch conservative has behaved as if legal weed signaled the end of the republic, a threat to America and our way of life.
Last week, lawmakers in Maine’s Legislature, most of them Republicans, voted to overturn LePage’s second (and final) veto of a recreational marijuana retail sales regulation bill, as the Portland Press-Herald reported.
That vote by itself doesn’t accomplish much, aside from owning LePage. The state now has to hire a consultant “to help the state write more regulatory rules,” according to the newspaper (pro tip: save some money and just copy other states’ rules, as will probably happen already), hire some state workers to run a state cannabis regulatory agency —and (almost certainly) deal with more whinging and outright hostility from LePage and a slowly narrowing circle of like-minded legalization opponents, among them state Sen. Scott Cyrway.
Cyrway, a former DARE officer, made an impassioned plea to his colleagues against overturning LePage’s veto, arguing that marijuana legalization would both lead to more kids addicted to drugs — and more dead sheriff’s deputies.
“This guy had a drug problem and we are setting ourselves up to have more of them,” said Cyrway, referring to the death of Somerset County Sheriff’s Cpl. Eugene Cole. “We’ve got to stop it.”
Luckily, Cyrway’s colleagues didn’t pay him any mind. For cannabis advocates, last week’s public ownage of LePage, who has failed in his quest to stop marijuana legalization in Maine is a decided mixed bag.
Cannabis “social clubs,” where adults are allowed to gather in a public place, with a roof and a door, and smoke marijuana in relative peace and privacy, are banned. And the Legislature reduced the number of plants an adult is allowed to grow at home from six to three, for no perceptible reason other than to throw a bone to legalization opponents. This includes groups like Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), who, while willing to play games with facts in their zeal to halt marijuana legalization, at least enjoy more credibility than LePage, who has said that he lies to journalists so that they’ll print his lies, lose credibility, and then go away, as a way to improve society.
LePage is scheduled to become unemployed in January, when his term runs out, right about when retail stores in Maine start selling cannabis.
TELL US, does your state have recreational cannabis yet?