In November 2016, voters in Maine passed the Marijuana Legalization Act, also known as Question 1, by one-half of a percent. This act is fundamentally changing Maine marijuana laws forever. For a voting population of nearly 760,000, this meant the popular choice to legalize marijuana was decided by less than 4,000 individuals. The state saw the slim margin of passage as a reason to recount the vote and, ultimately, verified its passage.
Recreational marijuana laws in Maine mimic the laws in Colorado, Oregon, and other states who have passed recreational marijuana laws in many ways – with only a few key differences. The passage of the recreational program does not affect the state’s medical marijuana program, which has been law since 1999.
Possession and Purchase Limits
Recreational marijuana laws in Maine parallel their medical marijuana program in a few areas. Purchase limits for both medical and recreational consumers are set at 2.5 ounces, equal to 70 grams. Medical marijuana patients can purchase up to five ounces per month, but may only be sold 2.5 ounces in any 15-day period.
In public, medical patients and adults 21 and up can possess and transport up to 2.5 ounces of fresh marijuana. Unlike Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, current marijuana laws in Maine make no distinction between fresh marijuana, marijuana extracts or concentrates, and edible marijuana products. This may change after the regulations have been written and the program is fully implemented. After all, it took Colorado over a year to recognize different products may require different purchase limits to ensure public health and safety. In Colorado, edible purchases are now limited to 800mg and concentrates to eight (8) grams.
Growing Marijuana at Home
Under the Marijuana Legalization Act, Maine Marijuana laws view use and cultivation as a right of the people. Not only can adults 21 and up – once recreational dispensaries open their doors – purchase as much as 2.5 ounces of fresh marijuana, they may grow as many as six (6) mature plants, twelve (12) immature, and an unlimited amount of seedlings at home. Medical marijuana patients may similarly grow as many as six (6) mature plants. Adults who chose to grow marijuana at home must do so in a secure, locked facility. Recreational marijuana growers, in particular, must ensure their grow is out of public view, unseen without the help of binoculars, and must be reasonably protected from individuals under 21.
Recreational marijuana laws in Maine require each plant be tagged with the individual’s name and driver’s license or Maine identification number.
At the time of writing, lawmakers and policy writers have proposed limiting at-home cultivation to twelve (12) plants per residence, similar to changes Colorado made earlier this year.
Marijuana Taxes In Maine
As passed by voters in 2016, recreational marijuana will incur a 10% sales tax. In contrast, Oregon has a 17% sales tax on recreational sales and Washington levies a whopping 37% excise tax on marijuana sales. Whereas Colorado has earmarked a portion of the revenues collected for public education and welfare programs, Maine law has marijuana tax revenues deposited in the state’s General Fund, noting the funds cannot be used for any new state programs.
“Sales tax revenue derived from the sale of retail marijuana and retail marijuana products may not be used to directly fund any new state programs except that this revenue may be appropriated to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy for the purpose of training law enforcement personnel on retail marijuana and retail marijuana products laws and rules. Funds appropriated to the Maine Criminal Justice Academy pursuant to this subsection may be used only for the actual costs incurred to provide the necessary education and training of law enforcement personnel.”
Maine’s recreational marijuana program is expected to begin sometime in 2018, with licensing of dispensaries expected to begin no later than February 1st, 2018.
Article By: Joey Wells