Friday is the final day Gov. Paul LePage has to weigh in on the bill that would launch Maine’s recreational marijuana market.

The two-term Republican governor had 10 days from the time he received a bill approved by the state Legislature in a special session Oct. 23.

LePage, a staunch marijuana opponent who once called it a deadly gateway drug, is unlikely to sign off on the implementation bill.

He could let the 10-day deadline lapse without action, which would allow the bill to become law without his signature.

But bill supporters are expecting a veto, although he said in a 2014 debate that he would allow legalization if state voters approved. LePage vetoed 120 bills in the legislative session that adjourned last summer.

“I tried to meet with the governor to talk about the bill, but I was denied,” said Sen. Roger Katz, R-Augusta, who led a joint select committee that wrote the implementation bill. “I’m not holding my breath.”


Bill supporters are gearing up for an override, trying to persuade opponents to flip their vote or to stay home, which would help almost as much as a flip.

With a 22-9 win in the Senate, the bill got the two-thirds majority support to pass in that chamber, Katz said. He expects that ratio will hold steady.

But it fell shy of override strength on the House side, with a final vote of 81-50 in favor, said House committee chairman Teresa Pierce, D-Falmouth.

At one point earlier in the evening of Oct. 23, before multiple roll calls, the bill had the support of 85 House members.

Bill supporters won’t know exactly how many votes they need to override a LePage veto until the actual day of the vote, Pierce said.

Unlike emergency legislation, an override requires the support of two-thirds of those present on the day of the vote, not two-thirds of the total chamber.


“It’s all about the numbers, but I’m confident,” said Pierce, standing outside a local Starbucks on Monday with cellphone in hand. “That’s what I’m doing right now.”

The implementation bill is a legislative overhaul of a voter-approved referendum question that legalized adult pot use in Maine.

The bill would set up the rules, licensing structures and tax rates needed to begin commercial licensing, cultivation and sale of marijuana.

LePage signed food sovereignty and state mapping-office funding bills, but has taken no action on the pot bill or a ranked-choice voting delay.

Penelope Overton can be contacted at 791-6463 or at:

Twitter: PLOvertonPPH

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