By Danny Restivo
Maine lawmakers overrode Governor Paul LePage’s veto Tuesday, allowing doctors and nurses to prescribe medical marijuana for any patient they deem adequate. The Maine House voted 119-23, while the Senate voted 25-8 to override the governor’s decision on Friday to veto a medical marijuana reform bill.
Maine legalized medical marijuana prescriptions in 1999 for AIDS, post-traumatic stress and pains from untreatable ailments. The new legislation allows doctors to issue medical marijuana licenses for any therapeutic or palliative use. Supporters of the bill say medical marijuana could help treat opioid addiction.
LePage has been a strong opponent of any attempt to loosen the state’s marijuana laws. He’s cited—among other things—a lack of state oversight for vetoing the legislation.
“Passing legislation that would permit newly established manufacturing facilities to conduct this same work in the absence of rule or certification is irresponsible,” said LePage in a veto letter. He included several other issues regarding the legislation, like the establishment of a medical marijuana research fund and laboratory licensing procedures. He also referenced the bills failure to require drug tests for employees of caretakers dispensing medical marijuana, or sales tax registration before selling medical marijuana.
Maine currently has 42,000 certified medical marijuana patients. They spent more than $24.5 million at state medical marijuana dispensaries in 2017. The bill also requires caregivers who have a storefront operation to receive explicit permission from their respective municipality before operating a medical marijuana facility.
In early May, the Maine legislature overrode LePage’s veto of a measure that would allow the government to tax and regulate the commercial sale of marijuana.