Of the eight states that legalized cannabis in last November’s historic election, none were as tight as the vote in Maine. The race was so close in fact, that a recount was ordered by opponents of the bill.
Fortunately for cannabis supporters, the recount effort was defeated, and today marks the first day that adults, 21 and over, can purchase, possess and consume cannabis in the state. Individuals are allowed to have two-and-a-half ounces of cannabis, and grow up to 12 plants in their home, six mature and six seedlings.
The recount delayed recreational cannabis in Maine, with the debate on both sides being relatively equal.
“What’s happening at the local level is a reflection of how society feels about marijuana,” said Eric Conrad, spokesman for the Maine Municipal Association. “Our local government officials are sort of caught in the middle. They’re trying to manage a situation where citizens’ reactions can range from ‘It’s legal and I want to get it here’ to ‘I don’t want it in my town.’ That’s a tough situation.”
The new law allows for the establishment of social cannabis clubs, however, potential clubs will need to wait until the state develops rules and regulations for the potential businesses. Currently, anyone caught consuming cannabis in public is subject to a $100 fine.
The Portland Press Herald is reporting that two dozen municipalities have opened discussions for moratoriums or out-right bans on cannabis businesses within the city boundaries. A 180-day moratorium is being recommended by the Maine Municipal Association, until such time that Maine implements a system for rule-making.
“Sometimes the word moratorium can seem scary or discouraging to people, but I don’t think it should be viewed that way,” he said. “The towns want to do things properly and that takes time.” said Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine and an author of the law.