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Portland Slow to Opt Into Maine’s Recreational Marijuana Business Law

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New developments in Maine’s slowly-developing recreational marijuana law have shifted the impetus from the state to local governments. While there is still plenty of time to act, the city of Portland has been surprisingly slow on the uptake.

Governor Signs New Recreational Marijuana Bill

When Maine voters chose to make recreational marijuana legal back in 2016 – extending the approved use of the drug from merely medicinal – there was an expectation that it would change the state’s drug laws immediately. That has not been the case, though, both because the former Governor Paul LePage put up resistance and because state lawmakers have struggled to put together the rules that would dictate how recreational marijuana could be sold and used.

In late June, however, current Governor Janet Mills signed a bill that lays out the regulations for the sale of recreational marijuana to adults. It becomes effective in September and gives the Office of Marijuana Policy 60 days to finalize the regulations that will govern how marijuana can be used, sold, and grown in the state. After that, the state has to begin accepting applications to grow and sell marijuana within 30 days.

This clears the way for recreational marijuana use in Maine for early 2020.

Municipalities Slowly Opting into Maine’s Recreational Marijuana Program

An important part of the new bill is that municipalities in Maine have to opt into the program to allow recreational marijuana businesses to open inside their jurisdiction.

In all, there are 488 municipalities in the state. Since Governor Mills signed the new bill into law, only 15 have opted in, including:

  • Auburn
  • Bangor
  • Farmington
  • South Portland
  • Waterville.

Even though support for recreational marijuana was at its highest in Cumberland County, where over 55% of voters supported it during the 2016 election, Portland has not yet opted in to allow recreational marijuana business in the city.

What This Means for Portland

Until Portland opts in, no one in the city can grow, process, test, or sell marijuana for recreational purposes. Residents can still buy and use recreational marijuana, but they would have to travel to other municipalities – like South Portland – before they came across a business that sells the drug.

Of course, opting into Maine’s recreational marijuana program is not required before Portlanders can enjoy recreational marijuana; opting in is only required for manufacturing, processing, or selling it.

Maine Criminal Defense Group Serves Portland, Maine

The criminal defense and drug defense attorneys at Maine Criminal Defense Group serve the accused in Portland, Maine. Even after Maine’s recreational marijuana law becomes solidified, people can still get into serious legal trouble for smoking marijuana. For example, the law only allows adults to use the drug, and there are still numerous restrictions that cut into those rights, like laws against drugged driving.

In the meantime, Maine’s marijuana law is a confusing minefield that is evolving from strictly medicinal use to the inclusion of recreational use. The attorneys at Maine Criminal Defense Group can help you navigate these tricky times or defend your rights if you have been accused of breaking the law. Contact us online or call our Portland law office at (207) 571-8146.


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