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Maine

Cannabis Legalization in Maine

Bottom Line:

Both medical and recreational cannabis have been legalized in Maine, though the first recreational sales are not set to take place until 2020. The state adopts a generally liberal approach to the cultivation, use and distribution of all forms of cannabis and cannabis-related products.

The state of Maine was one of the first in North America to decriminalise possession and consumption of cannabis in small quantities. Hence, it came as no subsequent surprise that Maine would eventually legalize both recreational and medical cannabis state-wide. Maine has taken a relatively relaxed approach to cannabis policy over the past 40 years, favouring sensible regulation of punishments for infraction. By the end of 2020, Maine is expected to have a booming recreational cannabis market and become a popular cannabis tourism destination for out-of-state and international visitors.

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When Was Cannabis Legalized in Maine?

Prohibition of cannabis in Maine came into force in 1913, after which it wasn’t decriminalised until 1976. More than 20 years later, the state’s official medical cannabis act was brought into place in 1999, which along with a series of dispensaries also brought citizens the right to cultivate their own medical marijuana at home.

As for recreational cannabis, a ballot initiative proposing legalization passed in 2016 by the narrowest of margins. In fact, it squeaked through with a majority of just 1% - much to the disdain of cannabis critics. A recount was ordered, after which the same 1% majority was confirmed and recreational cannabis was legalized. As of 2019, however, there were still no businesses in operation in Maine where recreational cannabis could be purchased legally.

So, Is Marijuana Legal in Maine Right Now?

Yes – both recreational and medical cannabis are legal in the state of Maine. It’s just that the legal pot infrastructure hasn’t yet caught up with the new legislation. Right now, you won’t get busted for carrying, consuming or even growing cannabis on your own private property. However, there’s nowhere to legally buy cannabis for the time being. It’s expected that the first legal recreational sales of cannabis will begin in early 2020, after which dozens of licensed stores will begin opening their doors.

Where Can I Buy Cannabis in Maine Today?

As it stands, the only legal place you can buy cannabis in Maine today is a licensed medical cannabis dispensary. However, you’ll need a state-approved medical cannabis card to qualify. Otherwise, you’ll have to wait until the state’s recreational cannabis stores go into business, which is set to start happening at the beginning of 2020.

Can I Get Medical Cannabis if I’m Not a Maine Resident?

Maine operates a relatively relaxed medical cannabis policy, when compared to those of many comparable states. If you have appropriate authorization from a recognized authority in a different state, you can purchase medical cannabis in Maine. You’ll first need to register with the relevant Maine authorities, after which you’ll be able to purchase pot from a variety of dispensaries.

What Types of Marijuana Will Maine’s Dispensaries Sell?

There will be relatively few restrictions placed on the types of cannabis and cannabis-related products Maine’s dispensaries will be able to sell. The primary focus for most stores is expected to be high-quality cannabis flowers, which are typically stocked in dozens of different strains with their own unique properties.

Maine’s recreational cannabis stores will also be permitted to sell cannabis concentrates, cannabis edibles, transdermal products, cannabis seeds, cannabis clones, marijuana cultivation and consumption paraphernalia and so on. In fact, pretty much anything and everything you can think of.

The only real restriction will apply to the provision of medical or health-related advice. It will be strictly forbidden for any individual working in a recreational cannabis store to offer such advice. Licenses may be revoked and business shut down for advising medical cannabis patients, without the authorisation to do so.

How Much Will Cannabis Cost in Maine from 2020?

Impossible to say at this time, but you can expect to pay the usual price of around $10 to $20 per gram. It all depends on the quality of the cannabis and the rarity and/or prestige of the strain you’re looking to buy. It’s also possible that jurisdictions across Maine will impose their own unique taxation systems on recreational cannabis. This could lead to cannabis in some areas being far more expensive than others. Always check online and compare the available options to ensure you get a good deal.

How Much Marijuana Can I Buy at a Time?

When recreational cannabis sales start in Maine, all adults over the age of 21 (in possession of government-issued ID) will be able to purchase a maximum of 2.5oz of cannabis flowers, or the nearest equivalent. This will also be the maximum legal amount any person can carry at any one time, so it could be risky to visit multiple stores to pick up more than your permitted quota. If more than 2.5oz is needed, there’s also the option of growing your own at home (see further below).

Can I Take My Purchase Across State Lines?

For the time being, there is no allowance for crossing state lines while in possession of cannabis under any circumstances. Even when crossing the border between two states where cannabis is legal, inter-state transportation remains illegal across the US in general. Heavy penalties remain in place for those who are found to be illegally trafficking cannabis – even in small quantities and exclusively for personal use.

Where Can I Legally Consume Cannabis in Maine?

This is where things get tricky, as it is currently illegal to consume cannabis in any public place in Maine. Or to put it another way, you can only consume cannabis on private property – typically the home of the person consuming it. Parks, public buildings and anywhere open to members of the public in general – all places it is forbidden to consume cannabis in any form. As a rule of thumb, anywhere you can’t (or shouldn’t) smoke a cigarette is somewhere you shouldn’t be smoking cannabis, either.

If Cannabis is Legal in Maine, Can I Still Get Busted?

Absolutely – and don’t think for a second it doesn’t happen. Break any of Maine’s laws regarding possession, cultivation, distribution or consumption and you could find yourself on the business-end of a heavy fine. Take things too far and you could even end up in jail. Maine is taking no risks with its fledgling legal cannabis campaign and routinely throws the book at those who knowingly flout the law.

How Much Cannabis Can I Grow at Home?

Since the new recreational cannabis bill came into effect, residents of Maine have enjoyed some of the most liberal cannabis cultivation laws in the US. Anyone aged 21 or over is now permitted to have up to six flowering cannabis plants on their property, along with a further 12 plants in the vegetative stage. That’s a huge 18 plants in total you can have doing their thing on your property. The typical allowance elsewhere being a comparatively meagre six plants, with a maximum of three flowering at any one time.

Can I Buy Cannabis in Maine as a Tourist?

There are currently no restrictions in place regarding the purchase and consumption of cannabis by non-Maine residents. Tourists will have the same rights to purchase and consume cannabis as Maine residents, though will not be permitted to cultivate cannabis during their stay. Maine is expected to introduce an extensive range of organised cannabis tours beginning early 2020.

What About Transporting Cannabis and DUI Laws in Maine?

Cannabis being transported from its place of purchase to the buyer’s home must be kept in its original sealed packaging, as far out of the driver’s reach as realistically possible. It’s a similar policy to the state’s alcohol transportation law, which states that motorists must not drive with an open alcohol container in the vehicle. The same DUI laws apply to cannabis users, who face heavy fines and possible imprisonment for driving under the influence of cannabis.

For the record, it will also remain illegal for any occupants of a motor vehicle to consume cannabis – even in the case of a passenger and a stationary vehicle.

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