AUGUSTA — The Maine House voted Monday to sustain Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill that would create the legal framework for retail sales of recreational marijuana.
The bill was the result of more than nine months of work by a special committee tasked with implementing the law that voters narrowly approved last November, putting Maine among the eight states and the District of Columbia that had legalized the adult use of marijuana. The 74-62 vote Monday fell 17 votes short of the two-thirds margin required to overturn LePage’s veto.
The path forward for the ballot-box law remains unclear, with the current moratorium on recreational sales expiring Feb. 1. The Legislature reconvenes in January and could pass legislation then, but it’s uncertain whether the political dynamic will change enough in the next two months for an implementation law to be passed or the moratorium to be extended. If neither occurs, the ballot box law would take effect, a prospect that some lawmakers find alarming.
“I feel like we legalized gasoline, but not gas stations,” said Rep. Martin Grohman, a Biddeford independent.
Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, co-chairman of the special legislative committee that wrote the implementation bill, is unsure what the next steps will be.
“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 House 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.” [Read more at Portland Press Herald]