Maine recreational marijuana was officially legalized on Monday as the first part of the legislature comes into effect. Maine residents will now be allowed to legally possess up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana as well as grow up to 6 immature plants and 6 flowering plants at home.
Sales of Maine Recreational Marijuana Still Delayed Until 2018
Like the other states around the country, residents must consume marijuana in the privacy of their own homes and not in public, although there is space within the law for social marijuana cafes to open in the future. Initially retail sales were scheduled to begin in the fall but lawmakers have been adding adjustments to the measure and, as of last week, one of the decisions was to push back retail sales to early 2018. Neighboring state Massachusetts also legalized marijuana in November and decided to delay retail sales until mid-2018. Maine recreational marijuana now stands to become available close to the timeline of its neighbor.
A Contentious Legalization
The vote passed by an extremely thin margin of just a few thousand votes and a 50.27 percent majority. Governor Paul LePage campaigned strongly against legalization, stating that people didn’t understand the law and, after the vote passed, he signed the delay on retail sales. Opponents of the proposition demanded that a recount occur before officially allowing Maine recreational marijuana to be legalized. The recount was wrought with problems as opponents to the bill could not gather enough volunteers to conduct the recount and ultimately the result was the same. As of now, Maine becomes the 8th state in the country to legalize recreational marijuana for adults over the age of 21. The vote, which occurred at last November’s election, also saw California, Nevada and Massachusetts join Colorado, Washington, Alaska, Oregon and D.C. in legalizing the plant.
“A Substance That is Safer Than Alcohol”
David Boyer, who ran campaign for Question 1, the measure that would legalize recreational marijuana, said, “Responsible adult marijuana consumers will no longer be harassed and treated like criminals. Police will be able to spend more time addressing serious crimes rather than punishing adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.”
Marijuana at the National Level
With the legalization of marijuana in Maine, over 1/5 of the country has legalized recreational marijuana and ended prohibition. With this most recent election, 28 states have legalized medical marijuana; well over half the country. According to the most recent Gallup poll, 60 percent of the country believe marijuana should be fully legalized. Unfortunately, it remains illegal on a federal level and doesn’t seem to be changing, as Trump has recommended that Jeff Sessions, a well-known opponent of marijuana, be the next Attorney General. Having said that, Trump has made it clear that he believes that marijuana should be a state run issue so there is hope that the new administration, at best, will choose not to interfere.
With the advent of Maine as a state where marijuana is legal, the trend of legalization is continuing in the area. Rhode Island and New Jersey are just a couple of the states that are discussing legalizing marijuana through legislature this year.