Maine Gov. Paul LePage Wants to 'Kibosh' Medical Marijuana Bill Passed By Voters

Maine Gov. Paul LePage Wants to 'Kibosh' Medical Marijuana Bill Passed By Voters

By Paul Gaita 12/20/16

In a new interview, the governor stated that the medical marijuana measure could create a host of potential problems for Maine.

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Governor Paul LePage
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As both sides of the marijuana legalization debate in Maine continue to ramp up efforts to preserve or recall Question 1, which approved the legalization of recreational marijuana in Maine, Governor Paul LePage doubled down on his desire to see the measure either rewritten or done away with altogether.

In his weekly interview with WGAN radio in Portland, LePage regarded the bill as "poorly written" by "people who want to recreation (sic) with marijuana," and echoed previous inflammatory statements about the dangers of medical marijuana by stating that in its current form, Question 1 would allow "adolescent children" to buy recreational marijuana. If the Maine Legislature would not "just kibosh" the bill, LePage stated that significant changes should be made to its content, including an increase on taxes for marijuana revenue.

For LePage, Question 1 posits a host of potential problems for the state, including the funds needed to launch a state-regulated marijuana program. About "$5 million" will be required from the Maine Legislature, according to LePage, to abide by the bill's requirement to charge the state's Department of Agriculture with marijuana production and distribution, as well as enforcing state laws.

LePage has long advocated for the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations (BABLO) to oversee regulations for the new industry, and reiterated that stance in his interview. "I'm going to ask [the Legislature] to send [the bill] over to BABLO—we already have the infrastructure over there—and then I think it's a matter of writing the rules," he said.

Ultimately, the work required to correct the bill's perceived problems serve as proof positive for LePage's stance that marijuana of any kind is bad for Maine residents. "Personally, if there was ever a bill that the Legislature should just kibosh, that's it," he said.

Should the time and effort be expended to revise the bill and implement newer and higher taxes on revenue, which LePage offered as a stipulation to its passage, he added that the state medical marijuana program should be done away with altogether. 

"If you've got recreational marijuana, it's over the counter—why do we need medical marijuana?" LePage opined. "You don't need a prescription to buy Bayer aspirin, so why do you need a prescriptions to buy recreational marijuana or medical marijuana?"

According to Paul McCarrier, president of the pro-cannabis group Legalize Maine, eliminating the state's medical marijuana program would not only prevent thousands of residents from receiving medically necessary marijuana—and leave them open to discrimination from housing, employment or child custody—but also take away income from "hundreds" of Maine businesses.

The state of Question 1 currently remains under question. Though Maine voters narrowly approved the measure on Nov. 8, the margin of victory was so slim—less than 1% of the vote, according to some sources—that it opened the issue up to a recount by legalization opponents at a cost of $500,000 to the state. However, state election officials decided to delay the process until 2017, a choice predicated in part by a lack of volunteers from the opposing side to show up and count the votes. 

WGAN transcript with Gov. LePage

"I think that it's a very poorly written bill—it's written by people who want to recreation (sic) with marijuana. There's got to be some fixes to it. According to the Attorney General and others who have read it, they say that because the law is written, anybody can buy it, including adolescent children. I'm concerned about that—I think there needs to be some work done there. 

I'm also very, very concerned what the cost is going to be. I need about $5 million from the Legislature to build the infrastructure in the Department of Agriculture. I'm going to ask them to send it over to BABLO—we already have the infrastructure there—and then I think it's a matter of writing the rules.

Personally, if there was ever a bill that the Legislature should just kibosh, that's it. I'm also going to ask that we increase the taxation on it. Secondly, we gotta get rid of medical marijuana. If you've got recreational marijuana, it's over the counter—why do we need medical marijuana? I see no need—you like, Bayer aspirin, you don't need a prescription to buy Bayer aspirin, so why do you need a prescription to buy recreational marijuana or medical marijuana?"

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Paul Gaita lives in Los Angeles. He has contributed to the Los Angeles Times, Variety, LA Weekly, Amazon.com and The Los Angeles Beat, among many other publications and websites. 

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