Maine became one of four states on November 8, 2016, to pass legislation allowing adults to possess, consume, and cultivate marijuana for personal use. The Marijuana Legalization Act, or Ballot Question 1, permits adults ages 21 and older, who are not participating in the state’s medical marijuana program, to legally grow, possess and use specified quantities of cannabis.
However, two years later, there are still no stores or dispensaries where Mainers can legally buy recreational marijuana. Political wrangling, a legislative moratorium, and gubernatorial vetoes have stalled the process. A state-hired consultant has until April 30, 2019, to produce rules and regulations that will finally allow the process for recreational marijuana sales to proceed.
Since the original legislation was passed, the legislature made a number of changes and compromises and had to overcome vetoes to pass an amended law LD 1719, An Act to Implement a Regulatory Structure for Adult Use Marijuana. Among the changes is the scaling back the number of plants a recreational user can grow at home from six (6) to three (3). The Legislature also postponed until 2023 consideration of cannabis social clubs, leaving homes and 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 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 that would have regulated sales.
Maine has allowed doctor recommendations, and limited possession, of medical cannabis since 1999. On November 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 two-and-a-half ounces (2.5 oz), or 70.87 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, increases the number of state-licensed dispensaries and allows registered caregivers to see more patients, hire more workers, and run storefront operations without the threat of legal reprisal. 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?
Once the consultant’s report is issued, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services will begin working toward issuing adult-use licenses. A number of existing medical cannabis dispensaries will also likely sell recreational marijuana as well. Until then, only medical marijuana is available.
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 (6) mature plants. Possession limits were changed from up to two-and-a-half ounces (2.5 oz), or 70.87 grams, of prepared dry flower to eight pounds (8 lbs.), or 3.63 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:
- HIV / AIDS
- Hepatitis C
- Crohn’s disease
- Alzheimer’s Disease
- Nail-patella syndrome
- Intractable pain
- 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 the patient’s using 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.
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 January 28, 2019.