8 May 2015
The 127th Legislature of the State of Maine State House Augusta, ME
Dear Honorable Members of the 127th Legislature:
Under the authority vested in me by Article IV, Part Third, Section 2 of the Constitution of the State of Maine, I am hereby vetoing LD 4, “An Act To Promote Industrial Hemp.”
This legislation is fatally flawed and due to current federal law, I can see no way to make this concept work. Maine’s current law regarding industrial hemp contains “trigger provisions” that limit State licensing until the federal government excludes industrial hemp from the definition of “marihuana” or until the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency issues permits for growing industrial hemp. LD 4 eliminates these important trigger provisions. This bill, however, fails to recognize the fact that the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency requires a permit to import hemp seed into Maine and permits are only issued to state departments of agriculture or universities for research purposes. No matter what LD 4 proposes, there will not be a source of legal hemp seed for growers in Maine. I fear, however, that Maine farmers may think that with the enactment of LD 4 that they are engaged in a legal enterprise. I simply cannot support inadvertently putting Maine’s hard working farmers at risk of violating federal criminal laws, which is the practical effect of this bill.
I also have serious doubts about the agricultural and economic benefits of this bill. At this time, there are no developed markets in Maine for hemp and it is unlikely that this product would command a price high enough to make this crop worth growing. Proponents argue that hemp fiber can act as a replacement for wood fiber, but Maine already has a vibrant forest industry with developed infrastructure. The same cannot be said for hemp, as there is currently no equipment in Maine to grow, harvest, transport, or process hemp.
Plainly put, this bill is fraught with legal risks for Maine’s farmers, with no countervailing benefits. For this reason, I return LD 4 unsigned and vetoed. I strongly urge the Legislature to sustain it.
Paul R. LePage Governor