Implementation of Maine’s adult-use program begins
Last update: March 27, 2017
In January, the Maine Legislature passed LD 88, an emergency bill to clarify that marijuana is only for adults 21 and over, set a personal possession limit of five grams of concentrated marijuana, and push back the rulemaking deadline to February 2018.
The next act of the legislature was establishing a Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Implementation, which has met a handful of times already. This group of legislators will craft the regulatory structure of Maine’s adult-use marijuana program.
Their first major decision will be choosing a regulator for this new industry. Tomorrow, they will be working on Speaker Gideon’s bill to name the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations (BABLO) as the primary regulator.
This bill also provides funding for implementation so the state can get started and legal marijuana stores can be open as soon as possible.
This is a good start, but the state could move much faster. Other states, like Nevada, will allow for early sales starting this summer! The longer Maine waits to license stores, the longer Maine will miss out on new jobs and tax revenue.
Medical marijuana in Maine
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.
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