Maine Recreational Marijuana Sales Get Snuffed Out

Author: David B. Weisenfeld, XpertHR Legal Editor

November 8, 2017

The Maine House of Representatives has upheld Governor Paul LePage's veto of a bill to legalize recreational marijuana sales in the state. Maine was one of four states to approve a marijuana law via the ballot box in November 2016. But emergency legislation delayed implementation of the law until 2018 so the state licensing authority could implement regulations governing retail marijuana sales.

In his veto message, Governor LePage wrote that allowing all adults to purchase marijuana would violate federal law. "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." He also cited the bill's failure to address compatibility issues with the state's existing medical marijuana program.

One legislator said of the governor's veto to the Bangor Daily News, "I feel like we legalized gasoline but not gas stations here." The House voted 74-62 to override the veto, well short of the two-thirds margin required to do so.

The legislature will reconvene in January to decide what to do next. Certain provisions of Maine's recreational marijuana law are still scheduled to take effect on February 1, 2018, including antidiscrimination provisions. The law states that employers "may not discriminate" against or otherwise penalize a person solely for consuming marijuana outside the employer's property. But with no law to regulate sales, the future of recreational marijuana in Maine remains cloudy.

Seven states have legalized recreational marijuana in addition to the District of Columbia, including:

Meanwhile, 29 states have legalized medical marijuana use.