Growing Marijuana in Maine
Proponents of recreational marijuana use celebrated a razor-thin win this Thursday, as Maine became one of the first in the Northeast to officially legalize recreational marijuana. But Maine residents are now in for a long wait before the new law is fully put into place — if it even happens at all, as many people begin to ask ‘when can i grow Marijuana in Maine?‘
Recreational marijuana use was officially legalized in Maine on Thursday after a close race that, as of Saturday, Nov. 12, was separated by just 4,402 votes. The new measure would allow Maine residents to legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and consume recreational marijuana in non-public places.
With such a close tally, however, opponents of the new law are expected to contest the results. The “No on 1” campaign that led the fight against legalization now must collect 100 signatures by 5 p.m. on Wednesday to persuade the secretary of state’s office to authorize a recount, according to the Washington Times. In an interview with WCSH, No on 1 adviser Newell Augur emphasized this desire for a recount, saying the vote “demands a careful, accurate result, and the idea that we are going to push on through when the margin is .005% is foolhardy.”
Another vocal opponent against the initiative is Republican Gov. Paul LePage, whose strong doubts about the law may prevent him from putting it into effect. According to the Maine Sun Journal, LePage suggested that he may wait to see what President-elect Donald Trump’s position on marijuana legalization will be. Maine’s newly-passed law conflict with federal laws prohibiting marijuana use, and unlike the current Obama administration, Trump could choose to strongly enforce these laws over state laws.
Though (at last count) the bill has won the approval of the people, LePage’s approval is a crucial part of putting recreational marijuana use in motion. The new law can only take effect 30 days after LePage officially certifies the election results, meaning that no legalization efforts can go through until the governor is officially on board.
Once the 30 days following LePage’s approval has passed, it will be officially legal for residents to possess marijuana and grow it themselves. However, buying the plant will still be difficult. Once the law is in effect, the agriculture department then has nine months to officially regulate the state’s marijuana industry and approve its rules.
It’s only after this nine month period — plus an additional 30 days —that the state will begin taking applications for marijuana retail stores, cultivation facilities and marijuana “social clubs,” similar to Amsterdam-style coffee-shops. All marijuana businesses will be subject to the approval of Maine’s individual municipalities, which have the power to forbid any marijuana from being produced or sold within its limits.
Though legal recreational marijuana use may still be a few months away, Maine residents can currently take advantage of medical marijuana in the state, which has been legal since 1999. If you would like to learn more about growing your own medical or recreational Marijuana, click below.
Will Growing Marijuana In Maine Be Legal By Christmas?
The hope Maine marijuana proponent’s had of growing their own pot by the Yuletide is going up in smoke because a recount of the ballot question to legalize the practice will likely drag into next year.
The recount began Monday in Augusta. Maine residents last month approved legalizing marijuana by a narrow 4,073-vote margin in an election that attracted more than 750,000 votes.
The hotly debated referendum question asked if voters wanted to legalize recreational pot use by adults at least 21 years old. Legalization would require a regulatory structure that would take months to implement.
One facet of the law allows people to grow six marijuana plants at home. Supporters of legalization said after the election they hoped Mainers would have that right by Christmas.
The Maine secretary of state’s office said Monday that results won’t be certified until the recount is over, likely next year with the potential to stretch into spring.
“More adults are put at risk for using a substance that’s safer than alcohol. Implementation is obviously being delayed as well,” said David Boyer, campaign manager for a group supporting the referendum.
Despite marijuana activists’ calls for concession, the state’s anti-marijuana campaign is determined to prevent Mainers from growing pot as a stocking stuffer.
Newell Augur, an attorney for the opposition campaign that requested the recount, pointed out that much of rural Maine opposed the referendum and said those residents deserve the most accurate count possible.
“If we’re going to embark on a significant change in our public policy, which this change would represent, we should be absolutely sure this count is accurate,” Augur said.
Maine voted in the marijuana referendum on a busy day for pot laws nationwide. California, Nevada and Massachusetts all legalized recreational marijuana. Arizona shot down a similar law.
Maine also has a medical marijuana law, which allows for patients to cultivate up to six mature marijuana plants. Proponents of recreational marijuana have pledged that the medical program will be unaffected by full legalization.
The recount might not be the final hurdle marijuana fans need to clear before legalization goes through. Gov. Paul LePage has expressed reservations about whether the marijuana law can be implemented.
LePage’s office did not respond to a request for comment.
“We’re going to work with the governor to make sure this program is implemented responsibly and efficiently,” Boyer said.