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How Pot Legalization in Colorado May Affect Maine

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Marijuana sale in Colorado became legal on January 1, 2014. In response to this, several media outlets report that there were long lines outside of new marijuana dispensaries On New Year’s Day as many people came out to show their support for the new law and obtain legal marijuana. CNN reports that this is a landmark event because Colorado is the first state to legalize recreational marijuana use and purchase. Under this law anyone can purchase up to 1 ounce of marijuana for personal recreational use.

In 2012, Colorado citizens voted in favor of legalizing marijuana use and setting up legal marijuana dispensaries. Colorado was the first state to legalize the drug as well as set up shop running under government regulations. The state already allowed medical marijuana sales but this new law makes it legal for anyone to purchase the drug without having to qualify. According to the CNN article:

Colorado becomes the first place in the world where marijuana will be regulated from seed to sale. Pot is the third most popular recreational drug in America, after alcohol and tobacco, according to the marijuana reform group NORML.

There are some limits to the laws, however. For example, communities can decide individually whether or not they want to allow marijuana retail shops. CNN states that there are about 30 stores throughout the state of Colorado that began selling recreational marijuana. Of those, 18 are located in Denver. Also, the drug can only be consumed on private property with the owner’s permission. Public drug use is still illegal. Drug sales are very much like alcohol. A person must be 21 in order to purchase or use marijuana. All over the city of Denver new signs were put up to inform people that public drug use is still illegal as is trading or giving marijuana in public spaces.

Many believe that a lot is riding on the success of this program in Colorado. They feel their acceptance of legal marijuana will have a huge impact on marijuana laws all over the country. Washington voters also approved to legalize marijuana but the state is still a few steps behind Colorado in terms of setting up licensed legal retail establishments. Voters in Portland also recently approved a bill that decriminalized the drug in the city. Marijuana is still illegal under Maine state and federal statutes, but Portland police have stated that they will likely not be enforcing it as long as drug use is done responsibly and in private.

Based on the success of Colorado, more marijuana legalization is a realistic possibility for many states including Maine. For now, drug and marijuana use and purchase is still illegal in the state as a whole and enforced in most cities in Maine. Just because a drug is legal in some states does not mean that a person cannot be charged for drug related offenses in others. For example, driving while intoxicated by marijuana in Maine is still a crime and can result in criminal charges even in Portland.


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