Getty Images

Pot is legit in Maine. Ya mon! But, hold onto your rolling papers, you can’t walk into your nearest Starbucks and fire up a blunt just yet.

Repealing pot prohibition is a tricky affair. The newly passed Marijuana Legalization Act that green lights the cultivation, production and possession of marijuana for retail sale is tightly controlled. As regulations face review, towns are slapping on moratoriums faster than Resist bumper stickers. So what’s a Maine recreational cannabis user to do? Stay calm and get educated.

“There is a lot of confusion; people don’t really know what’s Ok and what’s not Ok,” said Hannah King, a lawyer at Portland-based Drummond Woodsum law firm, who is an expert in the field.

 

Months after the Nov. 9th marijuana reform victory, Gov. Paul LePage slammed on the brakes by signing a moratorium to delay provisions of the law until February 2018. Yes it will likely be a year or two before Maine turns into a bucolic Netherlands, and that’s assuming pot-hating U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions doesn’t crack down at the Federal level.

In the meantime, here’s the deal:

1. HOLD YOUR OWN

People 21 years and older can posses 2.5 ounces of weed or less for recreational use. “That is a lot for personal use,” said Portland lawyer Ted Kelleher. That amount can be consumed at home or in a non-public location where an owner has given special permission or granted access (think of renting a barn for a green wedding this summer).

2. GROW YOUR OWN

The only way you can legally access weed it is to grow it yourself. Any Mainer 21 years or older can grow up to six plants inside or out in their property. You can’t buy it or sell it. But can you gift it? That’s a gray area.

3. WORKAROUNDS

Startups like the Cannabis Shack in Biddeford and Leafy have made attempts to skirt the law, as the Press Herald recently reported (add link http://www.pressherald.com/2017/04/09/no-sales-but-marijuana-gifts-exploit-a-legal-limbo).
King pointed out a similar scheme in Massachusetts where a $45 bottle of lemonade with a pack of joints can be delivered to your door. There are numerous cannabis delivery options on Craigslist Maine, offering a pricy box of peanut chews for $420 (https://maine.craigslist.org/crs/6091964605.html). “While it is currently legal for adults to grow limited amounts of marijuana for their own use and to ‘gift’ that marijuana to other adults, any sort of quid pro quo as part of the exchange, for example accepting a donation or payment for delivery of the ‘gift,’ is not consistent with the spirit of the law and is likely illegal,” said King.

4. WAIT IT OUT

Before Mainers can legally purchase weed, two things need to happen: Retailers, cultivators, and processors need a license from the state, which, as part of the state licensure process, has to be approved by the municipalities in which they operate.

“The state can’t issue those licenses until they have promulgated regulations,” said Kelleher.

5. WAITING TO EXHALE

The Legislature is still considering which agency will have regulatory oversight of the adult use marijuana program. Once that has been decided, regulations, such as licensing criteria, gets underway. These finalizations are unlikely to happen earlier than mid-2018, said Kelleher. At that point applications could be accepted and licenses granted. And we are ready to roll!

So hold that budding pot brownie food truck business idea for now, but start working on a logo.

“It’s going to take a long time to figure out. It’s a new industry. The government has to make sure that consumers are protected,” said Kelleher. “This requires regulations addressing testing, labeling, packaging, and pesticide use, just to name a few.”

About The Author

K. D. Pierce

K.D. Pierce is a journalist, blogger, coffee drinker based in Southern Maine.

Leave a Reply