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Maine Lawmakers Pass Marijuana Bill, But Veto Looms

Robert F. Bukaty
Associated Press/file
Lawmakers discuss business in the House Chamber as the Maine Legislature reconvenes Wednesday, Jan. 4, 2017, at the State House in Augusta.

Maine lawmakers have passed a compromise bill to implement the citizen initiated measure allowing the retail sale of marijuana in the state. But it faces a likely veto.

House Minority Leader Ken Fredette said he’s convinced the governor will veto the bill and lawmakers will have to take up the issue again in January because there are not enough votes to override a veto.

“We’re probably aren’t going to come back in special session to look at overriding this veto," he said, "which means it sits in limbo from now until January. I think quite frankly it should have been referred back to committee so they could do some real work on it.” 

The legislation was the result of nine months of deliberations and hearings by a special committee. Supporters say the measure provides a safe, licensed and well-regulated framework for the sale of marijuana and will bring in new tax revenue.

Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta who co-chairs the marijuana implementation committee, supported the bill.

“If people are going to choose to use marijuana they are going to be able to access it in a well-licensed, well-regulated, safe, lawful and appropriately taxed environment,” he said. 

But Sen. Scott Cyrway, a Republican from Benton, questioned the safety of the drug itself.

“It is playing Russian roulette with one’s mind," Cyrway said. "I do not exaggerate when I say that many lives have been ruined by this supposedly benign drug.”