Last Update: December 5, 2014
South Portland votes to make marijuana legal
Last month, voters in South Portland approved the initiative to make marijuana legal for adults by a margin of 52-48! South Portland is now the second city on the East Coast — and the second of the four largest cities in Maine — to adopt such a measure. In Lewiston, the measure came up a little short with 45% of the vote, but we are encouraged by the strong support it did receive.
Both of these measures were big wins because they inspired substantial and much-needed public dialogue that educated thousands of Maine voters about marijuana — particularly the important fact that it is less harmful than alcohol. They also helped us build a base of supporters and recruit a lot of new volunteers in these cities.
We are now beginning the push towards taxing and regulating marijuana at the state level. We are currently writing the initiative over the coming months. We would love to hear from you on how you think marijuana should be regulated. Please email our Maine political director David Boyer to get in touch with us. 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.