Gov. Paul LePage wants the liquor and lottery agency to regulate the retail sale of Maine marijuana instead of the agricultural department. Pictured: Customers shop at Colorado marijuana retailer Emerald Fields in April 2015. (John Leyba, Denver Post file)

Legal marijuana in Maine in limbo while gov and legislature come to terms

"I think every person in the state should be outraged"

AUGUSTA, Maine — Maine Gov. Paul LePage says he’s not going to sign off on a legislative delay of the retail sale of marijuana until lawmakers address his concerns about funding and oversight.

Some lawmakers are growing frustrated over the governor’s refusal to act on a bill to delay the retail sale of marijuana in an 11th-hour test of political will.

Democratic Rep. Louie Luchini of Ellsworth accused the Republican governor of putting his ego ahead of protecting Mainers by his inaction on the emergency legislation. Democratic House Speaker Sara Gideon said the Republican governor’s inaction is “creating confusion and chaos” just days before recreational marijuana use becomes legal.

Without a delay, the marijuana legalization referendum is set to go into effect on Monday without addressing concerns about oversight of marijuana sales or closing a referendum loophole that allows Mainers under 21 to possess the drug.

In recent weeks, lawmakers unanimously pushed through a bill that would delay the retail sales of marijuana to February 2018.

LePage wants the liquor and lottery agency to regulate the retail sale of marijuana instead of the agricultural department. He also wants lawmakers to appropriate $1.6 million for rule-making.

Gideon said a joint legislative committee should decide which agency has oversight.

“I think every person in the state should be outraged,” Gideon, D-Freeport, told the Portland Press-Herald. “The people in the legislative bodies did their jobs and took it very seriously. Our responsibility is greater than any grievances we have with each other, and my feeling is the governor is not fulfilling his responsibility to the people of the state right now.”

As it stands now, starting Monday, adults in Maine can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or six plants, the Portland Press-Herald reported. Retail sales likely wouldn’t begin until the fall.

The Cannabist staff contributed to this report.