How Will Trump's Election Affect Recreational Marijuana in Maine?
For several years, the federal Justice Department has not gone after state-legal marijuana use and cultivation.
We do not know if or how a President Trump will change that.
Trump has at times seemed to support states' rights to legalize and legislate marijuana. At other times, he has been unclear about his thinking.
Trump has picked Senator Jeff Sessions to be his Attorney General. The Attorney General oversees the Justice Department, which enforces federal laws. Sen. Sessions has been a hard-liner on drug policy, including marijuana.
Trump may himself lead the federal government's policy about state-legal marijuana, or he may let Sen. Sessions make the policy. Either way, the federal government could decide to turn back time and begin going after marijuana. Or, it could decide that there are more important things to worry about and leave marijuana alone.
If Trump or Sen. Sessions decides to crack down on marijuana, the Justice Department would probably sue the state of Maine. Its goal would be to prevent the state from enforcing Question One.
Governor LePage has already threatened to refuse to certify the referendum. He has said that he cannot certify a law that is federally illegal. That could mean bad news for recreational marijuana becoming legal in Maine.
On the bright side, it would be nearly impossible for the federal government to arrest every marijuana consumer in the country.
If the federal government wants to crack down on state-legal marijuana, it would most likely try to shut down the supply chain in the biggest states, such as California.
What does all this mean for Maine? It means uncertainty.
The Maine referendum will likely survive a vote recount. But we will have to see what LePage does. And we will have to see how the federal government responds to the clear mandate for legalized marijuana in large parts of the country.