Recreational marijuana is legal in Maine. Adults 21 years and older can now use and possess two-and-a-half ounces of weed.
They can also legally grow up to six mature plants and 12 immature plants. Retail sale of cannabis will be allowed when the moratorium ends in February 2018.
The Gold Room in Portland will be the site of a victory celebration Monday night. Supporters of Legalize Maine and those with the Yes on 1 campaign will attend a private event called “The End of Prohibition” party.
The road to legalization in Maine was bumpy, starting with two competing initiatives and a legal challenge to getting the referendum question on the November ballot. After legalization was approved in a close vote the opponents requested a recount, but after two weeks of hand-counting ballots there was no change in the outcome.
Maine lawmakers rushed to address several potential flaws in the voter-approved law before it took effect. Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill unanimously approved by the House and Senate to close a loophole that could have allowed people under age 21 to legally possess marijuana. The legislation also prohibits the consumption of marijuana while in a vehicle in operation and delays the start of retail sales until February 2018, giving agencies more time to craft and implement rules governing the industry.
So before you light up, here’s what else you need to know now that Recreational marijuana is legal in Maine:
Q: When can I start using?
A: Marijuana becomes legal Jan. 30, 2017, but it is not yet legal for marijuana to be sold.
Q: Can anyone use marijuana legally?
A: No. The law says you have to be 21 years or older.
Q: Can I use as much as I want?
A: No. The law allows an individual to possess as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana. We’re told you can roll about 60 marijuana cigarettes, or joints, with each ounce. You can also give a friend up to 2.5 ounces as long as you don’t take anything in return.
Q: Can I smoke it anywhere?
A: No. The law prohibits using marijuana in public, whether you smoke it or eat it. You will have two options – smoking in private, such as in your home, or smoking in a state-licensed marijuana social club. You could be fined up to $100 for using marijuana in public.
Q: Wait, a marijuana social club?
A: The new law allows for state-licensed clubs where customers can use marijuana in a social setting. Proponents say it will provide a place for tourists and others to use the drug legally, an issue that has presented problems in other states.
Q: When can I go to a marijuana store or social club in Maine?
A: Not until at least February 2018. Lawmakers have implemented a moratorium on retail sales to allow time to set up a licensing and regulatory framework.
Q: Will there be stores everywhere?
A: Not necessarily. Although Recreational marijuana is legal in Maine, communities can restrict the locations of the businesses or even ban them outright. Some communities are adopting temporary bans to allow time to consider zoning and other rules, and others are implementing permanent bans to become “dry towns.”
Q: Can’t I just buy it from a medical marijuana dispensary or caregiver?
A: No. State-licensed dispensaries and caregivers are only allowed to sell cannabis products to patients who have received a certification from their doctor.
Q: Can I just grow it myself?
A: Yes. An individual is allowed to have six mature plants, 12 immature plants and an unlimited number of seedlings at any given time. You can’t grow it where it is visible to others and must prevent access by anyone under 21. Each plant has to be labeled with a tag that includes your name and your Maine driver’s license or identification number.
Q: What about workplace drug testing?
A: State officials have said the referendum language is unclear about workplace drug testing, while proponents have said employers will still be able to use drug tests to screen job applicants and existing employees. Employers can forbid employees from coming to work under the influence of marijuana, but standard drug tests do not prove someone is impaired at the time of the test and positive results could reflect marijuana use that occurred weeks before the test was done.
Q: What about smoking pot and driving?
A: Recreational marijuana is legal in Maine, but drinking and driving will remain illegal – and dangerous – to drive while intoxicated, whether because of alcohol use or marijuana use. There is no existing test similar to an alcohol Breathalyzer to determine intoxication by marijuana, so police officers will use field sobriety tests and other evidence to determine whether someone has used marijuana before getting behind the wheel.
Q: Can I buy a gun if I use marijuana?
A: No. Just because Recreational marijuana is legal in Maine, federally licensed firearms dealers cannot sell guns to people who use marijuana, even in states where it is legal for recreational or medicinal use. This is because marijuana is illegal on the federal level.
For more information on recreational marijuana is legal in Maine, or cannabis in Maine, or how to start a marijuana business in Maine, contact Denver Consulting Group.