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Maine Gov. LePage, a Sharp Cannabis Critic, Signs off on Legalization

January 3, 2017
(Michael Dwyer/AP)
Maine Gov. Paul LePage on Tuesday said he’s now signed everything that has crossed his desk related to the election—including Question 1, a ballot initiative LePage sharply opposed during the campaign on the grounds it would legalize “deadly” cannabis.

That means beginning Jan. 30, Mainers will be able to possess up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis as well as grow a limited number of plants at home. Under Maine law, initiatives take effect 30 days after the governor proclaims the result of the election, and Saturday was the deadline for that proclamation. Paperwork was delivered to the Secretary of State on Tuesday morning, the yes campaign said.

“Why do we need medical marijuana if you can buy marijuana over the counter?”
Maine Gov. Paul LePage

LePage, who urged citizens to vote down Question 1, says he’s still skeptical of whether it was wise for the state to legalize cannabis for adult use. The governor is calling on the Legislature to put a moratorium on the sale of cannabis until a regulatory framework is funded and in place.

Given LePage’s past statements on cannabis, some see the recommendation as signaling an effort to stall implementation of the new law. Advocates said they hope delays will be kept to a minimum.


Is Maine’s Governor Losing His Ever-Lovin’ Mind?

“We look forward to working with the legislature to ensure a timely implementation of Question 1, which will provide adults with a legal way to purchase marijuana from licensed and regulated businesses,” David Boyer, the Yes on 1 campaign manager, said in a statement Tuesday.

While proponents predict the regulations will take about nine months to establish, some provisions of the law will take effect immediately. Consumption of cannabis, as well as possession of up to 2.5 ounces will become legal, as will the home cultivation of up to six flowering cannabis plants, 12 immature plants, and unlimited seedlings. Public consumption will remain illegal.

LePage initially pushed back against the referendum in the weeks following the election, as the measure’s opponents were petitioning for and then conducting a recount. The governor also claimed the state’s voters didn’t understand the measure, and he indicated he would ask President-elect Donald Trump whether the new administration would enforce federal laws prohibiting cannabis.


Ayuh, Maine Just Legalized Cannabis! Now What Happens?

“I don’t think that they realize what they’ve done,” LePage repeated on Tuesday during a radio appearance. “You know, for instance, why do we need medical marijuana if you can buy marijuana over the counter?”

Late last month the Republican governor went further, saying ballot referendums are just “recommendations” that “the Legislature doesn’t even have to enact,” according to an Associated Press report.

“Experts on the Maine Constitution say LePage’s interpretation is incorrect,” the report said, adding that “LePage has a history of interpreting the state’s constitution in ways that are later discredited.”


The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ben Adlin's Bio Image

Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a Seattle-based writer and editor who specializes in cannabis politics and law. He was a news editor for Leafly from 2015-2019. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

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  • Forest Dweller

    The man sounds like a Trump clone … both physically ugly and morally corrupt.

  • Waah

    Hey forest dweller. Lepage is a good man. How he feels and thinks about weed is his business. He did his duty. And his morals are no doubt not corrupt. He cares deeply about his state and its people. He comes from a hard background.You know little about the man. Do you just despise anyone who opposes the weed? You are wrong here. We here in Maine have finally got legal weed and we don’t need to get mean to the gov.

    • GoWiThaFlo

      “How he feels and thinks about weed is his business”? I don’t doubt the “good man” part, but that is the most ridiculous statement ever. Those who oppose legal “weed” are on the wrong side of history, just as those who opposed the repeal of alcohol Prohibition. It’s that simple. I’m over here in New York, Waah, and I can assure you that Gov. Andrew Cuomo is no better on this subject, arrogantly imposing his personal views about marijuana on the state’s entire population. Much like Cuomo still does, Maine Gov. Paul LePage did everything in his power as governor—clearly taking advantage of that public office—to interfere with the People’s Business (Question 1) before and after election day. His statements about cannabis flowers (presented in a video released right before Nov. 8) proved his total ignorance. I suppose that’s why it passed by such a small margin, because so many Maine voters believed LePage’s fear-mongering and lies.

    • lovingc

      Any bigot and authoritarian is light years away from being good. This man is evil in a way you have never seen. He wants things his way no mater what the people want. This is not a good man he is as evil as the Trump chump.

      • Waah

        I think you are wrong about these men being evil. Obama is evil.He has lied and cheated his whole life and you think he is god. Relax. you will be alright in trumps America. The media has fooled you into panic that need not be. I am sorry you are distressed about Trumps rise, but unless you are illegally here you are going to be protected and your chances to prosper will increase. All Americans are going to be better served by the new people. Gays, weirdos, etc will not be hurt by this new admin, they are part of this country and citizens that are as worthy as any. Relax. We are all on board for for the ride.I am a hardcore conservative , and I and other conservatives I know will not allow any one to be persecuted for their choices. Relax, and be one of us. Americans.

        • GoWiThaFlo

          “He has lied and cheated his whole life and you think he is god.” That describes Donald Trump’s rise with total precision, Waah. Trump lies every time he says his administration won in a “landslide,” when 3 million more Americans voted for Hillary Clinton on Nov. 8 and Trump’s Electoral College victory ranks in the mid-40s out of 58 presidential elections. That “landslide” claim is total BS and yet right-wing media (Fox News, Sean Hannity, Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter, etc.) and his supporters keep touting it as gospel. Trump lied about putting Clinton in jail, just to get votes. Trump lied about that dozen or so women who accused him of sexually harassing and assaulting them, including one young woman who alleges that Trump raped her at 13 years old. Hillary had it easy compared to those ladies, who still get death threats for speaking out or pressing their cases in court. Plus, Trump cheated his way to the status of “billionaire” (see Trump University) and refuses to release his tax returns, so that We the People can see exactly how he earns money and how many millions he has avoided paying in federal taxes. Then Trump has the gall to nominate a guy for U.S. Attorney General, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who’s just as ignorant about cannabis plants as Maine Gov. Paul LePage—as AG Sessions very easily could wield the power of that office to reverse 20 years of progress in state-level cannabis policy. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg on Trump, who you claim is “one of us.” You really think an accused child molester, tax evader and unrepentant schoolyard bully makes a good American and President?

          I strongly disagree. And I’m no fan of President Barack Obama, our nation’s first black president, who just squandered a golden 8-year opportunity to end the fraudulent and blatantly racist federal/state war on “marihuana.” It seems to me that “evil” is descending upon our nation in haste, and that Trump is not the man who will defend us.

  • Para Salin

    The only thing I don’t like about Maine is that ignorant, racist slug LePage.