AUGUSTA, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — There have been no changes in Gov. Paul LePage's position on an emergency bill that would delay retail sales of pot and would close loopholes allowing minors to have the drug.
The governor said he will not sign or veto the legislation because lawmakers didn't approve money to begin rulemaking and shift oversight of the recreational marijuana program. If no action is taken, the law takes effect just after midnight Monday without any changes addressing public safety.
LePage has until Feb. 7 to sign or veto the bill that was unanimously passed in both houses — otherwise, the state's recreation law goes into effect Monday and lawmakers say their hands are tied.
The bill would make it illegal for minors under 21 to have the drug. It would also be illegal to smoke marijuana in a car.
The governor is refusing to take action on the bill before Monday unless lawmakers fix it. He wants an amendment that would provide $1.6 million for pot regulation and oversight and shift the program from the Dept. of Agriculture to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations.
Lawmakers say they can start fast tracking those issues as early as next week. David Boyer, political director for the Marijuana Policy Project and former Yes on 1 campaign manager, said there are already laws that prohibit minors from using pot.
"I don't think there will be any practical implications of him not signing it because it's already illegal to furnish a minor," Boyer said. "Now it will be illegal on Monday those rules are already on the books this is a clarification of a technical matter."
In a statement, Scott Gagnon, chair of AdCare Maine and SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) Maine, writes that he's "greatly concerned" about how the law is going into effect. He believes the reason people are facing these issues is because this "is what the marijuana industry proponents put before Maine voters."
"Question 1 proponents have continued to deny the loopholes exist and still have not reached out to our coalition to work on common solutions," Gagnon writes. "We are hopeful that the Legislature and Governor are able to put something quickly in place to ensure we don't have the situation where youth will be able to lawfully possess marijuana come Monday."
The Attorney General's Office offered a brief statement, writing "The marijuana legalization initiative will become law – with all its flaws – at 12:01 AM on January 30th, unless the Governor signs the bill on his desk."
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