Maine Governor Smoked Marijuana, But Opposes Legalization

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The highest-ranking elected official in Maine got high, but he doesn’t want it to be legal for other people to do so.

Gov. Paul LePage (R) admitted at a town hall meeting Wednesday night that he tried marijuana as a teenager in the 1960s and didn’t like it, declaring himself more of a “beer man and wine man.”

Adding that he “can’t pass judgement on” people who use cannabis, he called his prior consumption “just an experiment” and said beer “tastes better to me.”

LePage was 18 years old in 1966 — a decade before Maine decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana.

But even though LePage once indulged in what was a crime at the time — and got away with it — that doesn’t mean he wants other people to be able to consume cannabis with impunity.

Maine voters will decide on a ballot measure to legalize marijuana this November, and the governor says he’s voting no.

But LePage indicated that he won’t be hitting the campaign trail to rally against the initiative, saying he won’t tell other people how to vote.

David Boyer, campaign manager of the Yes On 1 legalization effort, said that LePage’s admission that he inhaled perfectly highlights the need to end prohibition.

“The governor’s statement speaks to the simple reality in Maine: marijuana is already widely available and it’s time for a new approach that regulates, controls and taxes it,” he told Marijuana.com in an interview.

If voters approve the measure, LePage said he’d be put in a tough position in light of ongoing federal prohibition.

Legalization “should not be done state by state because it affects everybody,” he said.

But the conservative governor did say one thing that free-the-weed enthusiasts might like: He doesn’t believe anything that can be grown in your backyard should be taxed.

In other controversial commentary on drug policy issues, LePage said he’s been filling a binder with photos of every person arrested for selling drugs in Maine.

“I don’t ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison, but they come and I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it’s a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Connecticut, the Bronx and Brooklyn,” he said.

Drug policy reform advocates took issue with the implication that the illegal drug market is run primarily by people of color, pointing out that the governor’s binder simply reflects stark racial disparities in drug law enforcement.

“White people are statistically more likely to sell drugs than black people, yet according to the governor, police in Maine are nine times more likely to arrest black people for doing so,” Rachel Healy, communications director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Maine, told the Portland Press Herald.

LePage has generated headlines with his opinions about drug policy several times before.

Earlier this year, he said that drug dealers should be put to death via guillotine. Maine abolished the death penalty in 1887.

He also previously made racially charged remarks about the drug market, saying drug dealers “are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty. These types of guys, they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home. Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young, white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”

A poll in March found that 54 percent of Maine likely voters support the marijuana legalization initiative.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Marijuana.com. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)

8 Comments

  1. In my opinion alcohol has the most damaging effects of almost all drugs – It blows my mind this drug is legal and cannabis is illegal

    • I feel the same way. Some of those idiots that run the government has no clue and don’t won’t one. Let them have their alcohol. I keep smoking what God gave me from the earth.

  2. Dramatizing his remarks and making yet again another state enemy of the weed is like standing in the Oval Office telling the president FU after they legalized gay marriage. People hate the controversy but are ok with live a let live. Stop pissing on the power wires, we may see faster change if you do.

  3. This racist SOB needs to be impeached. He threatened one of the state legislators for something the man never said, but should have.

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