UGUSTA, ME — The first portion of Maine’s marijuana legalization law goes into effect Monday, when consumption of the drug will be allowed on private property. The timeline was set Thursday as lawmakers approved amendments to the citizen-backed legalization initiative. Maine voters in November approved legalizing marijuana by a razor-thin margin; the winning side earned just a 50.27 percent majority.
One of the changes approved Thursday is a delay on retail sales. The language in the ballot measure dictated retail shops would be allowed to open this fall; however, lawmakers on Thursday agreed to a three-month delay, moving back retail sales to early 2018.
Maine lawmakers followed the example of their Massachusetts counterparts in delaying retail marijuana shops. Massachusetts voters also approved legal marijuana in November and Bay State lawmakers then voted to delay retail sales until mid-2018.
In Maine, the legalization initiative appeared as Question 1 on the ballot. The official tally was 381,768 in favor and 377,773 opposed — a margin of 3,995 votes. The “no” side requested a recount, which was halted just a few weeks in as it became clear the tallies didn’t vary significantly.
The Maine legalization measure also allows for cafe-style marijuana “social clubs.”
Along with Maine and Massachusetts, California and Nevada in November voted to legalize marijuana. Arizona rejected a legalization measure. Recreational marijuana sales are currently legal in Colorado, Washington, Oregon, and Alaska.
Marijuana is still prohibited under federal law. The Obama administration adopted a wait-and-see policy as states continued to legalize the drug. Jeff Sessions, Donald Trump’s pick for attorney general, during confirmation hearings earlier this month said he “won’t commit” to such a policy. Trump himself has said marijuana should be a “state issue.”
Marijuana Will Be Legal in Maine Monday. Marijuana Will Be Legal in Maine Monday.