The civil rights fight to end cannabis prohibition made great progress across our nation last November as full legalization made its first foray into the Northeast with electoral victories in both Massachusetts and Maine (along with wins in California and Nevada as well). Maine will be the second Northeastern state to legalize marijuana for adults, just trailing a month and a half behind Massachusetts, where cannabis became legal on December 15th. One fifth of the United States’ population now lives under a legalization law.
Both Maine and Massachusetts have grappled with the phenomenon of elected officials looking to amend marijuana reform bills passed by a majority of voters. Maine Governor Paul LePage has ridiculously claimed that he couldn’t move forward with legalization because of federal law and that the state should “get rid of medical marijuana.” An unfortunate consequence of legalization for all adults has been the tendency of some misguided politicians looking to restrict patients’ access. While these attacks on medical cannabis programs should not deter advocates from ending prohibition for all adults, we must all remain vigilant and fight to protect the rights of sick and disabled patients.
Congratulations, Maine freedom fighters, as you have legalized more freedom and will see more jobs and revenue for your state’s’ citizens. There will be plenty of political battles ahead, but you can certainly take the opportunity to (responsibly) celebrate freedom on Monday.
Below is a press release from the Marijuana Policy Project regarding the historic legalization of cannabis in Maine:
Marijuana Officially Becomes Legal for Adults in Maine on MONDAY
Once Question 1 takes effect, Maine will be the eighth state (in addition to D.C.) in which adults 21 and older can legally possess limited amounts of marijuana; the voter-approved law also allows adults to grow a limited amount of marijuana in their homes
PORTLAND, Maine — A voter-approved initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine will officially take effect on Monday, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana.
“The era of marijuana prohibition in Maine is finally coming to an end,” said David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, who served as campaign manager for the Yes on 1 campaign. “Responsible adult marijuana consumers will no longer be harassed and treated like criminals. Police will be able to spend more time addressing serious crimes rather than punishing adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.”
Under Question 1, which voters approved in November and Gov. Paul LePage certified on December 31, adults 21 years of age and older can legally possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana, grow up to six flowering marijuana plants and 12 non-flowering plants, and possess the marijuana harvested from those plants inside their residence. It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public and to drive while impaired by marijuana. The law will not affect employers’ drug-testing policies or their rights to prohibit marijuana use by employees.
The Legislature is in the process of establishing a regulated system of marijuana cultivation and sales, which is currently scheduled to be up and running by February 1, 2018.
“Now that adults can legally possess and consume marijuana, they need places where they can legally purchase it,” Boyer said. “The next step is to take the criminal element out of production and sales. We are hopeful that the Legislature will respect the will of the voters and work diligently to establish a sensible regulatory system.”
Marijuana is now legal for adults in eight states, including Maine, as well as in the District of Columbia. The measures approved by voters last November in California, Massachusetts, and Nevada took effect on November 9, December 15, and January 1, respectively. The laws in Alaska, Oregon, and D.C. were adopted in November 2014, and the laws in Colorado and Washington were adopted in 2012.
“Every time a state makes marijuana legal for adults, support for enacting similar laws grows in other states,” said Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project, which backed the Question 1 campaign in Maine, as well as the successful campaigns in Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, and Nevada. “Legislatures around the country are considering proposals to regulate marijuana like alcohol this year. Why cling to a policy as wasteful, problematic, and antiquated as marijuana prohibition while your neighbors are moving forward with more sensible policies?”
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The Marijuana Policy Project is the nation’s largest marijuana policy organization. For more information, visit http://www.MarijuanaPolicy.org.