Maine has had access to medical marijuana since 1999. In 2016, things are looking greener than ever before. Maine approves Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Act — allowing adults (21 and over) to grow up to 6 flowering cannabis plants and carry up to 2 1/2 ounces of marijuana.
“In 2013, over 70% of voters in the city of Portland decided it was time to reject the failed policy of marijuana prohibition and embrace legalization. Tonight, a majority of voters statewide agreed with that assessment. With the approval of Question 1, Maine has elected to take a sensible approach to marijuana and reject the flawed ideas of the past. Thanks to them, Maine will no longer arrest otherwise law-abiding adults for choosing to consume a substance that is objectively safer than alcohol and tobacco and in the process generate tax revenue that will be used to improve education and other vital state services greatly.” – Erik Altieri, Executive Director at NORML.
Maine Marijuana Legalization Details
It was an incredibly close call in Maine. Only 51% of ME voters said yes to Question 1. 49% said no. The law will impose a 10 percent tax on commercial marijuana sales like the one that generated billions of dollars in Colorado. However, local authorities in ME can still regulate, limit, or prohibit marijuana sales.
The new law will be in effect within the next 40 days, but the regulations for retail sales will go into place on August 8th, 2017. Last year Maine’s medical cannabis sales totaled $16.2M. Once commercial marijuana hits stores the state can expect to a large economic impact like the one seen in CO.
Legal Marijuana Makes It’s Way East
Before this election, three-fourths of recreational marijuana states were on the west coast. Now, there are two states on the east coast with recreational marijuana laws.
“To those who allege that marijuana law reform is a west coast phenomenon, tonight’s votes tell a different story,” NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano told us. “The majority of Americans throughout this country recognize that marijuana prohibition financially burdens taxpayers, encroaches upon civil liberties, engenders disrespect for the law, and disproportionately impacts young people and communities of color. That is voters are rejecting the failures of criminalization and embracing these sort of regulatory alternatives.”
Massachusetts joined Maine as a recreational state on the East Coast. Proponents of legalization believe Maine and Massachusetts will cause legalization to spread across the New England area. When medical marijuana made its way to Maine, it eventually spread to the rest of the northeast. Interestingly enough, Maine’s motto is “Dirigo” or “I’ll lead.” Let’s hope they’re right.
Legal weed increased tourism on the west coast, will Maine and Massachusetts be the new vacation hot spots on the East Coast? It’s at least worth a weekend trip away from New York or other nearby states with stricter marijuana laws. Both states have some of the best hiking trails, perfect for pairing with your first legal marijuana purchase! You can also go fishing, ME is known for having some of the best seafood on the east coast. You haven’t lived until you’ve had a lobster roll while stoned.
The Final Hit
Maine is going to need a lot more dispensaries. The East Coast is finally on board with recreational marijuana. Hopefully, the green fever is contagious and neighboring states follow suit. Legal marijuana has the support of the majority, and it’s finally starting to show. The 33 million Americans smoking pot no longer want to be identified as criminals. Furthermore, one in five Americans will have access to legal marijuana when all new laws go into effect.