Maine Marijuana Laws

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Is Marijuana Legal in Maine?

Yes, marijuana is legal in Maine. As provided in the Marijuana Legalization Act and the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act, eligible persons can use marijuana for medical and recreational purposes. Legally, adults up to 21 years can:

  • Share up to 2.5 ounces of processed marijuana and six immature cannabis plants or seedlings without remuneration
  • Cultivate up to twelve immature, six mature cannabis plants, and unlimited seedlings

Medical caregivers and patients are lawfully permitted to:

  • Possess up to 8 pounds of harvested cannabis
  • Cultivate up to six mature, twelve immature marijuana plants, and any amount of cannabis seedlings
  • Possess cannabis paraphernalia
  • Share up to 2.5 ounces of harvested cannabis with another medical marijuana patient without remuneration

The state imposes a 15% excise tax on cannabis plantations and a 10% sales tax on retail dispensaries but exempts medical cannabis patients from paying taxes. Although the tax imposed on marijuana makes the product pricey, the market still thrives. Cannabis is a Schedule I controlled substance under the 1970 Controlled Substance Act. Consequently, the federal government prohibits its use on federally-owned properties in Maine, despite its legalization. Also, it is illegal for anyone to leave Maine to other states with any form of a marijuana product.

Can I Use Cannabis?

Yes. Persons 21 years and older can legally use recreational marijuana in Maine. Minors in the state can only use cannabis when they have a recommendation from a physician and a medical marijuana card. Because of its psychoactive properties and addictive tendencies, marijuana is considered a hazardous drug. This is why it is classified as a Schedule 1 drug and still prohibited on the federal level. Before cannabis legalization in the state, Maine, along with other U.S. states, was at the forefront in combating cannabis use within their territories. The 1910 Mexican revolution that resulted in massive Mexican immigration into the U.S. changed people's perspectives on marijuana. However, the federal government enacted the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, prohibiting cannabis use across the country. The Control Substance Act of 1970 was later enacted, further tightening the laws on cannabis in the U.S. Despite this, Maine lessened the penalties for cannabis possession in 1976. Currently, the state allows both recreational and medical use of marijuana.

The Maine Marijuana Legalization Act permits persons who are 21 years and above to use and cultivate marijuana for recreational purposes. The Act allows eligible Mainers to grow any amount of seedlings and a maximum of six mature and twelve immature cannabis plants. Growing more than the stipulated number of cannabis plants is an offense punishable by up to a year imprisonment and a maximum fine of $2,000. Adults who have had the following convictions in the past are prohibited from cultivating marijuana in Maine:

  • Violation of marijuana cultivation laws
  • Operating Under the Influence (OUI) of marijuana charges
  • Furnishing cannabis to a minor

Maine Marijuana Laws in 2021

Maine marijuana laws permit both medical and recreational cannabis use in 2021. In November 1999, 62% of Maine voters supported ballot Question 2, which legalized medical cannabis. In 2016, recreational cannabis became legal in Maine after a majority vote for ballot Question 1. The sale of recreational marijuana eventually commenced on October 9, 2020, as provided in LD 719. The laws regulating marijuana in Maine make provisions for cultivation and dispensary licenses. Mainers who intend to purchase recreational cannabis should be aware of the various rules that affect cannabis and changes made over the years:

  • Changes to Title 7 Chapter 417: This took effect on February 5, 2018, during which Title 7, chapter 417 of the Maine Revised Statute was repelled. Title 28-B of Maine Revised Statute (LD 1719) was enacted in its place. LD 1719 regulates recreational marijuana in the state and clarifies legal terms used in Title 7 Chapter 417. LD 719 provided for mandatory tracking of recreational marijuana and licenses by the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS). It requires the DAFS to monitor marijuana movement in the state from farms to manufacturing plants, testing facilities, retail dispensaries, or disposal points. Also, DAFS is responsible for informing the public about the potential health risks of marijuana through campaigns funded with excise and sales tax revenues.

Also, LD719 permits the state's municipalities to establish laws regulating and limiting cannabis within their jurisdiction. In addition, it amends marijuana tax laws, imposing a 10% sales tax on cannabis sold to consumers at social clubs or retail stores. Furthermore, LD 719 stipulates that municipalities get 5% of the total marijuana tax they generate. Each municipality in the state with a cannabis plantation or retail store is also entitled to 1% of the monthly marijuana tax generated statewide. After distribution to municipalities, 12% of the remaining tax goes to the Adult Use Public Health Safety Fund.

  • Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2019: Governor Mills co-signed a letter with other U.S. governors proposing a SAFE Banking Act. This Act would enable marijuana businesses in Maine to access banking services without any legal repercussions. Although marijuana is legal in Maine, financial institutions are restricted from serving cannabis-profiting enterprises because marijuana is still illegal on the federal level. Consequently, licensed cannabis enterprises in the state carry out financial transactions through cash, limiting their smooth operations.

  • Secure and Fair Enforcement (SAFE) Banking Act of 2021: The SAFE Banking Act of 2021 was introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 23, 2021. This Act would permit financial institutions to provide loans and other financial services to licensed cannabis businesses without risking asset forfeiture. Also, the bill would hinder banking regulatory agencies from terminating the accounts of licensed marijuana business owners due to the nature of their businesses.

  • Provisions of the Marijuana Legalization Act (MLA) of 2016 mandates cannabis manufacturers in the state to use Maine's universal symbol to indicate that a package contains cannabis or its product. It is a black cannabis leaf on a white background within a red triangle. Below the triangle is a text that reads ''CONTAINS THC''. It is obligatory for manufacturers to imprint the universal symbol on every serving of edible cannabis products.

How the Legal Sale of Cannabis in Maine happens

To legally purchase cannabis in Maine, a buyer must be 21 years or older. Marijuana dispensaries can only sell to eligible individuals. As a buyer, you must present a valid government-issued photo ID showing your age at a cannabis dispensary. However, dispensaries cannot sell to visibly intoxicated persons even if they are up to the legal age. Medical patients must present their medical marijuana cards, and only patients who are 18 years and above can buy cannabis themselves. Most marijuana dispensaries deal strictly in cash because marijuana is still illegal on a federal level. Banks provide marijuana businesses with limited services. As such, they do not accept credit cards and checks as payment methods. Maine Statute prohibits dispensaries from selling recreational marijuana through online platforms, automatic vending machines, or drive-through windows. Also, as stipulated in P.L. 2017, residents cannot buy cannabis using a home delivery service.

Per Title 28-B Section 504 of Maine Statute, cannabis dispensaries can sell cannabis, marijuana paraphernalia, hash, and concentrate on their premises. Retailers can also sell cannabis edibles (like sodas, candies, and pastries) and non-consumables like apparel. Eligible persons can purchase up to 2.5 ounces of recreational cannabis alone or combined with marijuana concentrates. Five grams of cannabis concentrate is the maximum that an individual can purchase from a retailer at a time. Worthy of note is that recreational marijuana and medical marijuana cannot be sold by the same dispensary in Maine.

The Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) is responsible for regulating marijuana licenses in Maine. The OMP may issue one of five different license types to eligible applicants in the state as stipulated in Title 28-B Section 201 of Maine Statute. The range of licenses includes cultivation, manufacturing, testing, storage, and sample collection licenses. Recreational marijuana license applicants must undergo three steps - conditional licensure, local authorization, and active licensure before they can fully operate in Maine. Conditional licensure involves the applicant paying an application fee and submitting to a criminal background check, after which the OMP issues an individual identification card (IIC). This license is valid for one year. Secondly, the applicant obtains authorization from the municipality they intend to establish their business. Lastly, if the local approval is given, the OMP reviews the application and issues an invoice for the licensing fee. The applicant pays the licensing fee (via bank check or money order) to the OMP to obtain their recreational marijuana license. Every active license is valid for one year and requires subsequent renewal with the OMP.

Generally, as provided in Title 28-B Section 207 of the Maine Constitution, the application fee differs, depending on the license type, and ranges from $100 to a maximum of $500. Also, licensing fees range from less than $250 to a maximum of $30,000.

Penalties for Marijuana-related crimes in Maine

In Maine, it is illegal for persons under 21 years to buy cannabis unless they are medical marijuana patients and must be at least 18 years old. However, medical marijuana patients under 18 years can use the drug under the supervision of adults. Adults over 21 years are permitted to use recreational marijuana, but the state has strict regulations that guide the sale and consumption of cannabis. The following are some marijuana-related offenses in Maine and their penalties:

What are Cannabis Possession Charges in Maine?

Underage persons caught in possession of recreational marijuana violate Chapter 558 Section 2383 of the Maine Statutes. The fines for such offenses depend on the amount of cannabis found on them.

  • $350 to $600 for possession of fewer than 1.25 ounces of cannabis
  • $700 to $1,000 for possession of 1.25 to 2.5 ounces of cannabis

Legally, Maine adults can use and possess a maximum of 2.5 ounces or 5 grams of recreational marijuana or its concentrate. However, possession of cannabis above the allowed quantity is an offense punishable by up to six months in jail and a maximum fine of $1,000. Also, smoking cannabis in public places is illegal and attracts a $100 maximum fine.

In addition, the possession or use of marijuana paraphernalia is a civil violation. Offenders risk a compulsory fine of $300. The state can also confiscate any drugs found in their possession. Also, offenders selling paraphernalia to children below 16 can be indicted on misdemeanor charges punishable by a maximum fine of $2,000 and one-year imprisonment. If they sell to minors above 16, the maximum jail sentence is six months and a $1,000 fine. Generally, marijuana businesses risk license suspension, license revocation, or confiscation of their assets as penalties for violating their license terms.

Possession With Intent to Distribute

P.L. 2017 of Maine Revised Statute stipulates that it is illegal to share or sell cannabis without a license. Anyone unauthorized person caught with the intent to sell or distribute marijuana risks a jail term of up to one year and a fine of $2,000.

Hash and Concentrates

According to Title 17-A of the Maine Criminal Code, the term ''hashish'' refers to marijuana-derived resin and any product like salts or mixtures derived from it. In Maine, adults above 21 years can possess a maximum of 5 grams of cannabis concentrates legally. However, the use of marijuana concentrate in a public space is a civil infraction that attracts a $100 fine. Possession of any quantity of hash is criminal in Maine and attracts a maximum fine of $2,000 and one-year incarceration. Persons caught selling any amount of hashish risk up to five years imprisonment and a maximum fine of $5,000. Also, if an individual uses a minor to sell hash, they risk between two and 10 years of jail time. In addition, the offender faces a maximum of $20,000 fine. Repeat offenders caught selling hashish or selling within 1,000 feet of a school risk a two-year compulsory jail term and a minimum fine of $20,000. Giving any quantity of hash to a minor in Maine is a crime punishable by a minimum one-year prison term and a maximum fine of $5,000.

Is Gifting Marijuana a Crime in Maine?

No, Maine adults (21 years and older) can share up to 2.5 ounces of cannabis and up to six immature plants or seedlings. However, the transfer must be without remuneration, and the recipient must be up to 21 years. Gifting more than the permitted amount is an offense that attracts a fine of $100. A person is guilty of aggravated furnishing if they give out marijuana to children below 18 years. This crime is punishable by up to 5 years in jail and a fine of $5,000.

Can I Cultivate Marijuana for Non-medical Use in my Home?

Yes, Title 28-B Section 1502 of Maine Statutes allows for the home cultivation of recreational cannabis for personal use. Adults (21 years and older) can grow up to six mature plants, twelve immature plants, and any amount of cannabis seedlings for their personal use. However, the cultivation facility must be in the private residence of the user. If the grower uses another person's property, It must be with the written consent of the owner. Cultivation sites must be hidden from public view.

Is Transportation of Marijuana Legal in Maine?

Yes. As stipulated in the Marijuana Legalization Act, persons 21 years or older can legally transport cannabis within the state. Eligible persons can transport a maximum of 2.5 ounces of cannabis or concentrate at a time, not exceeding 5 grams of marijuana concentrate. Also, medical marijuana patients who are at least 18 years and caregivers can possess and transport a maximum of eight pounds of cannabis.

What is the Legal Implication of Driving Under the Influence of Marijuana in Maine?

In Maine, driving under the influence of marijuana is an offense, and neither a passenger nor the driver is permitted to use cannabis in a vehicle. Drivers caught using cannabis on the road can be indicted on Operating Under the Influence (OUI) charges and risk minimum fines of $500 and jail time. The amount of fines and length of incarceration depends on whether or not they are repeat OUI offenders. This rule also applies to medical marijuana users.

What is Maine's Cannabis History?

The possession, cultivation, and use of cannabis were considered unlawful in Maine from the 19th to the 21st century. Maine combated the use of recreational marijuana for centuries, eventually prohibiting it in 1913. This allowed illegal peddlers of marijuana to flourish during that period. Maine later decriminalized the possession of minute quantities of cannabis in 1976, making it the third U.S. state to do so.

In 1999, Maine legalized medical marijuana for patients with chronic medical conditions, permitting only licensed physicians to prescribe and administer it. In 2009, voters approved the Question 5 bill, thereby enacting LD 975 - An Act To Establish The Maine Medical Marijuana Act. LD 975 reviewed the conditions that qualify for medical cannabis treatment. It assigned the Maine Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) to certify non-profit dispensaries and issue patients' medical marijuana cards. The bill also authorizes the DHHS to administer application and renewal fees for medical marijuana cards.

In May 2009, Governor Baldacci endorsed LD 250, decriminalizing cannabis in Maine. LD 250 allowed adults (21 years and above) to legally use and possess a maximum of 2.5 ounces of cannabis. Also, it made the taxation and retailing of cannabis in the state legal. Maine became the 9th state in the country to legalize recreational cannabis on November 8, 2016, following the approval of Ballot Question 1. As provided in the statute, Maines municipalities are authorized to limit and ban the activities of marijuana businesses within their jurisdiction. Retail sale of cannabis was slated for February 2018, giving the various agencies in the state four months to set up directives for the cannabis trade. Governor LePage vetoed LD 1719 in January 2017, citing its deviation from federal law. Maine Legislature overrode the veto and enacted LD 1719 on May 2, 2018. On June 27, 2019, Governor Mills endorsed LD 719 (An Act Regarding Adult Use Marijuana) into the Maine Constitution. The retail sale of recreational cannabis officially began on October 9, 2020.

What are Restrictions on Cannabis in Maine?

Despite the legalization of medical and recreational cannabis in Maine, its use is restricted in certain areas and to some people. Furthermore, there are limits on the amount that an individual can possess, purchase or grow at a time. These restrictions include:

  1. Cultivation on land that is easily visible or accessible to the public is illegal. Recreational cannabis growers must take the necessary steps to prevent underage persons from accessing cultivation facilities.
  2. Use or possession of recreational marijuana by persons below 21 years is prohibited.
  3. Operating motor vehicles under the influence of marijuana is unlawful. Both passengers and drivers of vehicles are prohibited from using cannabis on the road.
  4. Sharing cannabis (with or without remuneration) with minors is unlawful. Also, gifting over 2.5 ounces of marijuana or 5 grams of cannabis concentrate to another person is prohibited even if the recipient is of legal age.
  5. Ingesting, smoking, or using any form of cannabis in public is illegal.
  6. Moving marijuana into federal properties is illegal.
  7. The use of marijuana on private property designated for daycare or babysitting purposes is unlawful.
  8. Maine residents are prohibited from transporting marijuana across state lines even if marijuana is legal in the destination state.
  9. It is illegal to use marijuana on private property if the owner of the property disapproves.
  10. Government agencies, whether state, county, or local, are prohibited from growing or selling cannabis; neither can they furnish other persons with it.
  11. Maine residents are prohibited from buying cannabis online, through courier services, vending machines, or drive-through sales windows.
  12. Residents are also prohibited from extracting marijuana concentrates at home using harmful chemicals. Also, it is illegal for landlords to intentionally allow tenants to manufacture cannabis concentrates using hazardous chemicals on their properties.
  13. It is illegal for dispensaries to display cannabis and cannabis-derived products openly on their premises.
  14. Medical marijuana patients below 18 years are not permitted to smoke the drug. They are also prohibited from growing marijuana. A caregiver must cultivate the drug on their behalf. However, qualifying patients below 18 years can use cannabis in other forms.
  15. Medical marijuana patients are prohibited from possessing over 8 pounds of harvested cannabis at a time. Also, they are not allowed to share more than 2.5 ounces of harvested cannabis with other patients on the drug. In addition, it is unlawful for medical marijuana patients to store marijuana outside their designated cultivation facilities or allow access to such places unless in cases of emergency.
Maine Marijuana Laws