Is Weed Legal In Maine?
Both medical and recreational cannabis use is legal in Maine. Medical marijuana was approved by Maine voters back in 1999, while recreational cannabis legislation was passed in 2016. Although cannabis use by adults at least 21 years of age is permitted, retail marijuana businesses are not expected to open until 2020 at the earliest.
Maine became one of four states to legalize marijuana on Nov. 8, 2016, passing legislation to allow adults to possess, consume, and cultivate marijuana for personal use. Under Maine marijuana laws — specifically, The Marijuana Legalization Act, or Ballot Question 1—permits adults 21 years of age and older, who are not participating in the state’s medical marijuana program, to legally grow, possess, and use cannabis.
So, is recreational weed legal in Maine? Yes. Democratic Gov. Janet Mills signed a bill on June 27, 2019, setting up a legal recreational cannabis framework for retail marijuana sales to adults. While the new law becomes effective in September 2019, state officials claim the retail marijuana businesses could be allowed to open as soon as early 2020. However, prior to the measure passed by Mills, political wrangling, a legislative moratorium, and gubernatorial vetoes stalled the process and dulled the proposed recreational marijuana rules.
Since voters approved the original legislation in November 2016, the legislature made a number of changes and compromises and had to overcome vetoes to pass an amended law, LD 1719. Among the changes is the scaling back the number of marijuana plants a recreational user can grow at home from six to three. The Legislature also postponed consideration of cannabis social clubs until 2023, leaving private property as the only places where recreational cannabis can be consumed.
The revised law sets an effective tax rate of 20% on marijuana products, gives Mainers priority for commercial licenses, and sets health and safety standards for the marijuana market.
In November 2016, Mainers passed Question 1 to allow for recreational marijuana.
The recreational program would also establish licensing and tax regulations for commercial cannabis production and retail sales. Those sales had been set to begin 40 days following the passage of ballot Question 1, but Republican Gov. Paul LePage vetoed the bill.
Maine marijuana laws have allowed doctor recommendations, and limited possession, of medical cannabis since 1999. On Nov. 2, 1999, Maine Medical Marijuana for Specific Illnesses, or Ballot Question 2, passed with 61% of voters in favor, legalizing medical marijuana for patients suffering from serious health conditions.
In 2009, voters passed by nearly 59 percent in favor of the Maine Medical Marijuana Initiative, or Question 5, which expanded the state’s existing program and decriminalized cannabis possession of up to 2.5 ounces, or 70.9 grams.
Question 5 officially established the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program (MMMP), creating a system of nonprofit dispensaries and cultivators giving patients and caregivers better access to treatments. The MMMP is regulated by the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
In July 2018, lawmakers overrode a veto by LePage in enacting sweeping medical marijuana reform. LB 1539 expands the number of people who can qualify for medical marijuana cards by removing requirements for qualifying conditions. It also changes the quantity of medical marijuana qualified patients may possess and increases the number of state-licensed dispensaries. Furthermore, it allows registered caregivers to see more patients, hire more workers, and run storefront operations without the threat of criminal prosecution. The reform also removed the requirement for patients to identify a dispensary from where they will obtain marijuana.
to Be to Consume?
Where is it Safe to Purchase?
Following the measure signed by Gov. Mills, the state’s Office of Marijuana Policy plans to start accepting applications for retail licenses by the end of 2019. Retail adult-use marijuana is expected to be sold in Maine as early as 2020. A number of existing medical cannabis dispensaries will also likely sell recreational marijuana as well. Until recreational framework is established, legal cannabis is only available through a medical marijuana dispensary.
Where is it Safe to Consume?
Cannabis consumption must take place in a private space. Consuming cannabis or cannabis-infused products in public is subject to a $100 fine. Consumption of cannabis in a parked car or in public view is also prohibited. Driving a motor vehicle, boat, or vessel under the influence of cannabis is illegal.
Under the MMMP, qualified patients and caregivers can possess no more than six mature plants. Possession limits were changed from up to 2.5 ounces, or 70.9 grams, of prepared dry flower to 8 pounds, or 3.6 kilograms, of harvested marijuana.
Medical Marijuana Registry
To participate in the MMMP, qualifying patients must meet certain requirements in accordance with DHHS rules and regulations and be added to the registry. There is no application fee for the MMMP. Patient identification cards are not required and are free of charge.
Approved conditions for the MMMP include, but are not limited to:
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig’s disease
- Cachexia, or wasting syndrome
- Crohn’s disease
- Hepatitis C
- Intractable pain
- Nail-patella syndrome
- Severe nausea
- Severe and persistent muscle spasms including those characteristic of multiple sclerosis
MMMP registry identification cards expire after one year, and must be renewed by both qualifying patients and caregivers. Qualifying conditions that had been previously required have been removed, allowing a medical practitioner broad discretion to prescribe marijuana for any medical condition that the physician believes may be alleviated by marijuana for medical use.
- Obtain a written certification from a certified physician.
- Submit a completed application to the MMMP.
- Designate one or two primary caregivers, if necessary.
- Indicate whether patients will cultivate cannabis for their personal use or designated a caregiver for cultivation.
Under Maine marijuana laws, qualifying patients may designate one person, hospice provider, or nursing facility to assist the patient with medical use of marijuana. Caregivers must register with the state and receive an ID card before they can possess or cultivate marijuana. Under certain circumstances, a patient may also designate a second primary caregiver.
A caregiver must be at least 21 years old and may not have been convicted of a drug offense. MMMP registry identification cards expire annually and must be renewed by both the qualifying patient and designated caregiver.
Each primary caregiver must have a designation form signed by the qualifying patient in order to submit an application for a registry identification card.
Additionally, a $31 fee, paid annually, covers background checks for each designated caregiver. There is a $300 fee per patient if the designated caregiver will be cultivating marijuana on behalf of a qualifying patient. Caregivers may receive reasonable compensation for the costs of their services, as well as any costs associated with cultivating marijuana on a patient’s behalf.
The Maine Medical Marijuana Program also offers reciprocity to certified out-of-state patients provided they have a valid medical marijuana certification from their home jurisdiction, a Maine approved medical marijuana certification form completed by the issuing doctor in their home state, and a valid driver’s license or state ID from the state that issued the original certification.
Maine has not adopted state-mandated cannabis testing regulations.
This page was last updated on August 2, 2019.