AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage on Monday ordered the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations to take over rule-making authority for marijuana regulation and told bureaucrats not to spend any money on it.

LePage said in his order that “no employee or department of the Executive Branch may use funds for the purpose of implementing the Marijuana Legalization Act until an appropriation is made by the Legislature for that purpose.”

Lawmakers are looking into what regulations are necessary for the purchase and sale of marijuana in Maine, something that probably won’t happen until 2018 or later. Possession of recreational marijuana became legal Monday.

Sen. Roger Katz, R-Kennebec, chairman of the Special Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee, said that “even though it is now legal for possession of certain amounts of marijuana for those 21 and over, many questions remain — from emerging public safety issues, to licensing and oversight of commercial growers and retail outlets, to packaging and labeling, to keeping edibles and other products out of the hands of our kids. And the list doesn’t end there.”

“It is more important that we resist the pressure to get this done too quickly and instead do our best to get this right the first time,” Katz said.

LePage has argued for months that the ballot initiative giving rule-making authority to the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry was a poor choice. He said the alcohol bureau has expertise in regulating items and is a more appropriate place to carry out the functions.

But he has also vowed repeatedly not to do any work on it until the Legislature coughs up millions of dollars to pay people to do the work. He has said it will require hiring more staff.

“The Executive Branch must be provided with the resources necessary to implement this new law,” LePage said Monday in a prepared statement.

If legislators “fail to do the right thing,” the governor said, “I will take action to make sure rule-making for the Marijuana Legalization Act is done properly and paid for appropriately.”


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