Last Update: October 15, 2014
Lewiston and South Portland voting to make marijuana legal
Last year, 67% of voters in Portland chose to stop punishing adults for possessing small amounts of marijuana. This year, two more Maine cities are likely to vote on a similar ordinance. Voters in South Portland and Lewiston will have the opportunity to make up to one ounce of marijuana legal for adults 21 years of age or older. These initiatives will continue the public dialogue that Portland’s campaign started and educate Mainers about the relative harms of marijuana and alcohol.
These campaigns will help build momentum for a change in marijuana policy statewide. We have been clear about our efforts to bring the question of taxing and regulating marijuana to voters statewide in 2016. Talking to folks around the state, it is clear that Mainers are ready to make marijuana legal.
Going forward, MPP will continue to work with legislators to pass a bill that would tax and regulate marijuana like alcohol, and if the legislature doesn’t support sensible marijuana policy reform, we’re confident that voters at the ballot box in 2016 will.
Medical Marijuana in Maine
Maine is one of 23 states (plus D.C.) that have removed criminal penalties for the medical use of marijuana to treat certain illnesses. If you are a patient with a serious illness who wishes to become a patient in Maine, please visit the program’s website at the Division of Licensing and Regulatory Services.
Maine voters passed the state’s medical marijuana law, Ballot Question 2, into law on November 2, 1999 with 61% of the vote. The law was improved by a ballot initiative in 2009 (Question 5) to allow dispensaries and add additional qualifying conditions. All eight dispensaries are currently up and running and no major problems have been reported.
In 2011, the Maine Legislature passed legislation making patient registration optional in order to preserve patient privacy and tweaking several other portions of the law. You can read a summary of those changes here.
Marijuana laws in Maine (non-medical)
Did you know that Maine is a “decrim” state? In 2009, the Maine Legislature passed a measure that expanded the state's decades-old decrim law by making possession of up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana a civil penalty, punishable by only a civil fine. For possession of up to 1.25 ounces, the fine is $350-$600. If the amount is between 1.25 ounces to 2.5 ounces, the fine is $700-$1000. Possession of more than 2.5 ounces can lead to a definite jail term of up to six months.
Of course, while removing the potential for jail time is a good first step, only taxing and regulating marijuana will solve the supply problem and completely remove marijuana from the criminal market. Please ask your legislators to support efforts to regulate marijuana like alcohol.
Thank you for supporting the Marijuana Policy Project. To stay updated on the status of marijuana policy reform in Maine, be sure to subscribe to MPP's free legislative alert service.