Last week Maine Governor Paul LePage signed a bill that closes a loophole created by the passage of Question 1, the measure approved by voters in November that legalizes adult use marijuana possession, growing and sales in the state. The loophole would have left police unable to enforce laws relating to the possession of cannabis by minors and people smoking marijuana while operating a motor vehicle.
The bill the governor signed would also delay the opening of retail shops until February of 2018. Quite a bit of drama accompanied the passage and signing of the bill, with the governor first saying he would not sign it until lawmakers provided money to his administration to begin the creation of regulations and moving oversight of the cannabis industry to another state agency. But because of the loopholes described above, Gov. LePage said he feels like his hand was forced.
“Because I do not trust Speaker Gideon will approve my language in the bill she submitted in her own name, I will issue an executive order delegating oversight of marijuana from ACF (Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry) to BABLO (Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations),” LePage said in a statement posted on his Facebook page. “However, no rules will be promulgated until the Legislature allocates money to fund the rulemaking process. I sign this bill today to protect Maine children from the dangers of marijuana.”
The delay of retail shops in Maine follows a growing pattern of delays or the talk of delays of in states like Massachusetts and California. It seems some lawmakers want to do their best to delay the implementation of the will of the voters. For those who oppose legalization, delay of the inevitable is just about the last tool in the toolkit.