Voters narrowly approved the Maine Marijuana Legalization Measure (Question 1) in November 2016, and the new law goes into effect on Monday January 30. This means that it is officially legal for adults 21 years and older to consume cannabis recreationally in the Pine Tree State.
While the use, possession and home cultivation of cannabis is now allowed, the legalization process is far from over. Voters also approved a retail market including licensed cultivators, dispensaries and social clubs with Question 1, but the regulations for these don’t have to be established until February 2018. The Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation will be responsible for crafting the rules and regulations over the course of the next year.
For now, adults may possess up to 2.5 ounces of dried flowers and grow 6 mature and 12 immature plants without facing arrest. In accordance with the law, all plants cultivated at home must be clearly marked with the owner’s Maine driver’s license or identification number. Gifting another adult up to 2.5 ounces is also permitted as long as nothing is sold.
It is still illegal to consume cannabis in public, however, and a person could be issued a $100 fine if caught doing so. This means that legal consumption is currently limited to a private residence until the social clubs are allowed to open sometime after February 2018. Driving under the influence of marijuana will also remain illegal in Maine.
In regards to the enactment of the new law, David Boyer, Maine Marijuana Legalization Measure’s campaign manager commented,
“It’s huge. No longer will we be punishing adults for using a safer substance than alcohol. We’re not making criminals out of thousands of Mainers who choose to use marijuana.”
Law enforcement officials in Maine are working with legislators to make sure the law is clearly defined, and many departments are conducting in-house training sessions to educate officers about new procedure. The original text of Question 1 contained a loophole that could have permitted people under the age of 21 to legally possess cannabis. The verbiage has since been edited to eliminate this risk. In the meantime, “It’s business as usual,” according to Gardiner Police Chief James Toman. “The officers are going to be able to exercise good judgment. … It’s still like drinking in public or while operating a motor vehicle. We’ll maintain vigilance.”