Marijuana Becomes Legal in Maine, Even As Opponents Fight For Restrictions

After a narrow win last November for legal recreational cannabis in Maine, residents there now can both possess and grow restricted amounts of marijuana.

Recreational marijuana became legal only after a recount of the vote in December. Question One, the ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana, ended up passing by about 4,000 votes.

However, the legalization movement in Maine still faces obstacles from opponents, who hope to restrict marijuana use at the state and local government levels.

“We’ve gone from a campaign to doing everything we can to mitigate the risk,” opponent Scott Gagnon, chairman of Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities, told the Associated Press.  “The statehouse will provide the voice for the half of Maine that said no to Question One.”

Marijuana Use in Maine

While the war rages on, legal marijuana supporters have won the first big battle in 2017.

Under the new law approved by the state Legislature and Gov. Paul LePage, Maine residents can now possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana. Use of marijuana is restricted to private homes or state-licensed marijuana social clubs. However, since the state does not plan to allow the clubs until February 2018, a private home is currently the only choice.

Those who use marijuana in public can face a $100 fine.

Other restrictions include:

  • You must be 21 to use or possess marijuana
  • Retail sales of marijuana will not begin in Maine until February 2018
  • You can also grow marijuana at home, but it is limited to six mature plants or 12 immature plants. You can have an unlimited amount of seedlings.
  • Marijuana use remains against the law if you are in a vehicle, not to mention very dangerous

Delays and Other Issues

State lawmakers delayed allow marijuana social clubs or retail establishments until February 2018 to allow them time to set up a licensing and regulatory system, according to the Portland Press Herald.

To that end, LePage has signed over control of legal marijuana to the state Bureau of Alcohol Beverages and Lottery Operations.

Some local municipalities have also considered restricting the sale of marijuana. Others may become “dry towns,” banning the sale of recreational marijuana within their borders. At the very least, most await a firm set of rules from the state on licensing marijuana sales before they decide on their next move

Legal marijuana proponents believe that Maine can learn from how states such as Colorado implemented legalized recreational marijuana. They successful fought off a movement to delay legalization until 2018.

Voters in California, Massachusetts and Nevada also legalized recreational marijuana in November. They join Alaska, Colorado, Oregon, Washington and the District of Columbia.

Legal marijuana proponents have now turned their eyes to fellow New England state New Hampshire, where lawmakers this year are expected to consider a bill that would decriminalize possession of small amounts of recreational marijuana.

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