Last Tuesday’s election saw many marijuana-related laws pass including the legalization of medical marijuana in Florida, North Dakota, Montana and Arkansas. It also saw the legalization of recreational marijuana in California, Nevada, Massachusetts and Maine. However, after 2 days of counting, the vote in Maine passed by a slim margin of just over 2,000 votes and opponents of the bill are now demanding a recount. The “No on 1” campaign has until 5 p.m. next Wednesday to gather at least 100 signatures in order for a recount to be considered and authorized by the Secretary of State’s office. Until that time, Maine marijuana laws are vulnerable.
The Status of Maine Marijuana Laws if the Vote Remains
According to Ballotpedia, the tally of Question 1 is that it succeeded in a vote of 378,288 to 375,668. Should these numbers hold true, it would allow adults above the age of 21 to possess up to 2 and a half ounces of marijuana for personal use. Starting in December, adults would also be allowed to grow up to 6 flowering plants and 12 immature plants. Marijuana would not be allowed to be consumed in public. However, the herb would be allowed to be sold, tested and cultivated for commercial use in the state of Maine. Retail tax would be 10 percent and cities and municipalities would be allowed to add extra taxes. Maine marijuana laws state that 98 percent of tax collected would go in the general fund to support schools, law enforcement and other government funded organizations for the city. 2 percent would be distributed through cities and towns through the Local Government Fund.
Safeguarding the Youth
Opponents of the bill are worried about the effect legalization would have on children and the medical marijuana program. Advocates of the bill, assure that marijuana would be illegal to consume in public. Advertising regulations would be in place to protect children and store signs would need to be discreet. Packaging for edibles would need to be childproofed and designs would be aimed to appeal to adults, not children. According to government surveys conducted by official health and safety departments in states where marijuana has been legalized, teen use has not gone up. Teen use in those states is within the national average and in some cases is even slightly lower than it was prior to legalization.
The Threat of Federal Action
David Boyer, campaign manager of Yes on 1, said, “We are talking thousands of votes difference. I just don’t see them making up that ground. Those votes can flip our way. We are ready to move forward with implementation.” Even if the count does hold true, advocates may have another battle ahead in protecting the new Maine marijuana laws. While Trump claimed that he wouldn’t interfere with state laws regarding marijuana, he could still decide to enforce federal law. Marijuana is still illegal on a federal level as it is still categorized as a Schedule I drug, alongside heroin and LSD. It is classified as a high risk drug, containing no medicinal use. If Trump chooses to enforce this arcane law on a federal level, Republican Gov. Paul LePage said that he may try to block the law.
As it stands, until otherwise contested or proven differently, Maine has legalized recreational marijuana for adults.