Public Safety Threat Looms for Maine Without Governor’s Signature on Marijuana Bill

Contact:
Jim Cyr
Communications Director
Office of the Maine Senate President
(207)287-1501

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

Public Safety Threat Looms for Maine Without Governor’s Signature on Marijuana Bill

Senate President Calls on Governor to Take Action to Keep Drug out of Children’s Hands and Off Our Roads

AUGUSTA – Unless Governor Paul LePage signs legislation that is currently on his desk, on Monday it will be legal for Mainers under the age of 21 to use and possess marijuana, and for all Maine residents to drive while using the drug, in accordance with the voter-approved Question 1 on last November’s ballot.

The legislation is LD 88, “An Act to Delay the Implementation of Certain Portions of the Marijuana Legalization Act.” In addition to addressing the concerns above, it delays the moratorium on retail marijuana sales until February 1, 2018. It has the support of leaders of the “Yes on 1” and “No on 1” campaigns. The bill received unanimous approval in the Veterans and Legal Affairs (VLA) Committee, and unanimous approval in the House of Representatives and Senate. Not one legislator voted against it.

But the governor yesterday indicated he would not sign LD 88 until the Legislature made “fixes” to the bill that include provisions to move oversight of retail sales from the Department of Agriculture to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations (BABLO) and $1.6 million in funding.

It is important to recognize that a separate bill that fulfills the governor’s priorities to shift oversight to BABLO and provide all of the funding he has requested has been referenced to the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee. It has the support of both Republican and Democrat leadership, but it does not need to be treated as expedited, emergency legislation.

There is, however, immediate urgency to passing LD 88 in order to prevent possession and use of marijuana by minors and using the drug in motor vehicles from being legal, beginning Monday.

The Administration has indicated that the governor has made it clear for weeks that he wants oversight transferred to BABLO and the $1.6 million. But it wasn’t until the bill was out of committee that they indicated that they want it to part of the emergency bill, LD 88.

Below is a timeline of the Legislature’s passage of LD 88.

  • January 11, 2017-LD 88 is referenced to the VLA Committee
  • January 17, 2017-Public Hearings on LD 88. More than 70 people testify. Governor’s Office does not participate
  • January 18, 2017-Senate president chief of staff speaks with governor’s staff to discuss importance of bill and the governor’s input on it
  • January 18, 2017-Work Session on LD 88
  • January 19, 2017-Work Session on LD 88
  • January 19, 2017-Governor’s office given proposed LD 88 language
  • January 23, 2017-Governor’s staff attends VLA hearing and voices no concerns about bill
  • January 23, 2017-VLA Committee unanimously approves LD 88
  • January 24, 2017-For the first time, the Governor’s Office indicates it wants BABLO and $1.6 million in LD 88, after all public comment and committee work was completed
  • January 26, 2017- Legislature enacts LD 88

Senate President Michael Thibodeau (R-Waldo) said, “I met with the governor on Thursday, and he indicated to me that he hasn’t even read the bill (LD 88). Given the flaws in the law, as written, that are recognized by Democrats, Republicans and legalization opponents and supporters alike, and the fact that, without enactment of LD 88, children will be legally allowed to use the drug beginning Monday, I would hope he would see the value in reading the legislation and signing it.

“We reached out to the Governor’s Office numerous times to include them in this process. The VLA Committee did its job in addressing immediate threats to public safety, while at the same time recognizing a multitude of problems surrounding legalization will also have to be dealt with in the months ahead. It is my sincere hope that no one is injured if LD 88 does not become law before Monday.

“The Legislature has done its job with LD 88 and we are now moving forward.”

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