In 1999, the voters in Maine approved the state’s first medical marijuana bill with a lopsided 61% approval. A decade later, the law was improved upon to allow for storefront dispensaries and to broaden the list of acceptable medical conditions that marijuana could be recommended for. In 2011, the law was built upon once again, protecting patients’ rights by making many registration processes optional.
In November of 2013 Portland, Oregon became the first city on the east coast to legalize recreational marijuana use for adults over the age of 21. In November of this year, the city of South Portland became the second.
Statewide recreational marijuana legalization -similar to what we’ve seen in Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and D.C. – appears to be inevitable in Maine.
The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) and Legalize Maine, two very active and very influential cannabis advocacy groups, are hard at work to push their own specific ideas for full legalization in the state, with plans to put the decision to the voters on the 2016 ballot.
Current poll numbers show that somewhere around 56% of Maine voters approve of allowing some regulated form of cannabis use for adults.
With two of the state’s four largest cities already moving full steam ahead on cannabis reform, and given the trends outlined above, the lawmakers at the state-level have taken note and now have four separate pieces of legislation in the works in an attempt to prepare themselves for the coming boom.
The first and most regrettable proposed new law would set a standard maximum level of THC in the bloodstream for anyone driving a motor vehicle. Put forth by the Department of Public Safety, it would allow Maine law enforcement officers to write a lot more OUI (Operating Under the Influence) tickets that only ruin careers, relationships, and lives.
The second proposed new law is being introduced by Maine State Congresswoman, Rep. Diane Russell (D – Portland). In it, she presents an outline for how the state ought to begin regulating, and more importantly taxing, the rapidly growing marijuana market in Maine.
Rep. Russell also plans to attach provisions that would do away altogether with any sort of allowable medical conditions list for doctors looking to prescribe pot to their patients. That decision would once again be between just the doctor and the patient, as it should be.
The Democratic Congresswoman clearly sees that the tide is turning rapidly on cannabis acceptance and reform in her state, and she envisions some form of the last two pieces of weed-related legislation to pass as well; hence her drive to get a workable cannabis tax code in place.
Those last two pieces of proposed cannabis reform (the MPP and the Legalize Maine initiatives) certainly differ in their details, but ultimately both seek to make marijuana completely legal for recreational use for adults (21+) in the state of Maine.
Whichever group’s version winds up on the ballot in the next election, the Pine Tree State looks like it is sure to get even more green.