The Maine recreational marijuana law has now taken effect, as of January 30, 2017. This initiative allows adults 21 years or older to consume marijuana for recreational use, joining seven other states and Washington D.C. with progressive marijuana laws. The law was not easily put in place. With much opposition, the bill was opposed many, many times. Now that the Maine recreational marijuana law is now in effect, what can you do? Well, first off, you can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and gift the same amount with no compensation in return. You cannot use marijuana in public, but Maine is establishing marijuana social clubs and bars that will accept users. Social clubs and retailers will have to wait until February of 2018, allowing regulators to create a strong foundation for these businesses to work with. You are allowed to grow your own plants, up to 6 mature plants, and 12 immature plants. With all of these provisions taking effect, Maine recreational marijuana law is set to create a large market for businesses to compete for come 2018. They are delving into an industry that is growing rapidly, expected to reach $21 billion by 2021.
Today, Maine joins seven other states and the District of Columbia that have legalized marijuana for recreational use, despite federal prohibitions on the drug.
The road to legalization in Maine was bumpy, starting with two competing initiatives and a legal challenge to getting the referendum question on the November ballot. After legalization was approved in a close vote the opponents requested a recount, but after two weeks of hand-counting ballots there was no change in the outcome.
The state is entering a rapidly growing industry expected to reach $21 billion in sales by 2021. Last year, North American consumers spent $6.9 billion on legal cannabis products, up 34 percent from 2015, according to a new report from Arcview Market Research.
The transition to legal pot has not always gone smoothly in other states, and Maine lawmakers rushed to address several potential flaws in the voter-approved law before it took effect. On Friday, Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill unanimously approved by the House and Senate to close a loophole that could have allowed people under age 21 to legally possess marijuana. The legislation also prohibits the consumption of marijuana while in a vehicle in operation and delays the start of retail sales until February 2018, giving agencies more time to craft and implement rules governing the industry.
Local government officials have also scrambled to get ready for legal marijuana. Dozens of towns have implemented or considered moratoriums on marijuana sales to give officials time to consider land use regulations. Others have voted to become “dry towns” and forgo marijuana retail shop and social clubs altogether.
Adults may be legally allowed to light up a joint, but some things won’t change: It is still illegal to drive while under the influence of marijuana, to use marijuana products in public and to give them to anyone under 21. And until the state issues licenses, it’s still illegal to purchase marijuana.