Cannabis in Maine

In the U.S. state of Maine, marijuana (cannabis) was prohibited in 1913. Possession of small amounts of the drug was decriminalized in 1976 under state legislation passed the previous year. The state's first medical cannabis law was passed in 1999,[1] allowing patients to grow their own plants.[2] The cities of Portland and South Portland decriminalized the possession and recreational use of marijuana in 2013 and 2014, respectively.

In 2016, a ballot initiative, Question 1, proposed the statewide legalization of marijuana use and sale. With all precincts reporting, the results showed a "Yes" vote passing by less than 1 percentage point.[3] However, opponents of the measure are seeking a recount.[4]


Prohibition (1913)

As part of a larger trend of restricting marijuana in the early 20th century, Maine banned the drug in 1913; Massachusetts having been the first to ban sale without a prescription, in 1911.[5]

Decriminalization (1976)

In 1976, Maine decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis (following 1975 legislation), becoming the third state to do so.[6][7]

Medical marijuana (1999)

On November 2, 1999, Maine legalized medical marijuana when 62% of the populace voted yes on Question 2.[8]

Decriminalization (2009)

On May 1, 2009, Maine decriminalized marijuana when Governor John Baldacci signed legislation (LD 250) which made possession of 2.5 ounces or less a civil infraction.[9]

Municipal legalization (2013–2014)

On November 5, 2013, voters in Portland, Maine passed Question 1 by 67% which legalized the possession of 2.5 ounces within the city's limits.[10][11]

The separate municipality of South Portland voted to legalize marijuana in November 2014, succeeding with 6,326 to 5,755 in favor. During the same election, the city of Lewiston voted down legalization, 7,366 to 6,044 against.[12]

Legalization (2016)

The Marijuana Legalization Act, to take effect within 40 days of Nov 8, 2016 permits adults who are not participating in the state’s medical cannabis program to legally grow and to possess personal use quantities of cannabis while also licensing commercial cannabis production and retail sales. The law imposes a 10 percent tax on commercial marijuana sales. Under the law, localities have the authority to regulate, limit, or prohibit the operation of marijuana businesses. On site consumption is permitted under the law in establishments licensed for such activity. [13][14]

See also


  1. Medical marijuana in Maine
  2. DHHS wants to tighten reins on Maine’s small medical marijuana
  3. Maine Question 1 — Legalize Marijuana — Results: Approved, New York Times (last updated November 12, 2016 at 1:22 PM ET).
  4. Maine marijuana opponents take out recount papers, Associated Press (November 11, 2016).
  5. Nancy E. Marion; Willard M. Oliver (16 December 2014). Drugs in American Society: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law [3 volumes]: An Encyclopedia of History, Politics, Culture, and the Law. ABC-CLIO. pp. 726–. ISBN 978-1-61069-596-1.
  6. The Decriminalization of Marijuana and the Maine Criminal Justice System: A Time/cost Analysis-1979. Maine Office of Alcoholism and Drug Abuse Prevention. 1979. In June of 1975, the Maine Criminal Code was signed into law, thereby making Maine the third state to "decriminalize" possession of marijuana. The law took effect on May 1, 1976,
  7. Shepherd, Michael (2016-05-04). "What stands between Maine and legal marijuana use? | BDN Maine". Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  8. "Referendum Election Results, Questions 1-3 - November 2, 1999 (Secretary of State, State of Maine, U.S.A.)". 1999-11-02. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  9. "PUBLIC Law, Chapter 67, An Act To Streamline and Clarify Laws Pertaining to the Civil and Criminal Possession of Marijuana". Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  10. "Portland voters legalize marijuana | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram". 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  11. "Maine 2013 General Election results — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine". Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  12. Graham, Gilliam (4 November 2014). "Pot legalization approved in South Portland, defeated in Lewiston". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  13. "Maine Legalizes Recreational Marijuana". Retrieved 2016-11-09.
  14. Patrick Whittle, Marijuana to become legal in Maine; Question 1 passes with narrow margin, Lewistown, Maine: Associated Press via Sun-Journal
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