Across the country, states have begun to legalize recreational marijuana, and many of them have also decriminalized possession of small amounts of marijuana. Additionally, following Colorado and Washington's lead, about half the states have legalized the cultivation and use of medical marijuana.
Maine joined the growing list of states allowing the sale of recreational marijuana in 2020, several years after voters approved a 2016 ballot initiative to legalize the drug. The current version of the law allows for the possession of up to 2.4 ounces of usable marijuana and the home cultivation of up to three plants.
Is Marijuana Use Legal in Maine?
The recreational use of marijuana is legal for adults aged 21 or higher, but possession of amounts in excess of 2.5 ounces is still illegal, as is the public consumption of the drug.
Marijuana Drug Classification
Federal law and many states classify drugs from Schedule I at the highest level to Schedule V at the least dangerous. These schedules are intended to determine the drugs' accepted medical uses and potential for addiction and harm. Since 1970, marijuana has been classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance by federal law, alongside such drugs as heroin and methamphetamine.
Maine classifies drugs on a slightly different schedule, which ranges from schedule W, representing the most dangerous drugs, to schedule Z, which contains the least risky substances. Marijuana is categorized as a schedule Z drug in Maine, though the law treats it differently from other drugs in the schedule.
Maine Marijuana Laws
The following table details Maine's marijuana laws.
Maine Code Revised Title 17-A, Chapter 45: Drugs
Is Marijuana Legal in Maine?
|Yes, but with restrictions.
Possession of marijuana in Maine is punished by the amount of weed the person has, as follows:
- Up to 2.5 ounces – No penalty
- 2.5 to 8 ounces – Class E crime that can be sentenced to up to six months in jail and a fine of up to $1,000
- 8 to 16 ounces – Class D crime punished by up to one year in jail and up to a $2,000 fine
- 1 to 20 pounds – Class C crime (presumed to be trafficking or furnishing after 1 pound) penalized by up to 5 years in prison and up to a $5,000 fine
- Over 20 pounds – Class B crime subject to up to 10 years in prison and up to a $20,000 fine
If the material is actually industrial hemp, such as used to make rope or clothing, possession is not a crime.
Maine law prohibits the furnishing, giving, administering, delivering, or otherwise transferring marijuana to another person, or possessing it to do those things.
Anyone not properly licensed by the state's regulators could be prosecuted under the furnishing statute for providing marijuana to others.
Possession of marijuana in excess of the 2.5-ounce limit can create the permissible inference that the possessor is assumed to be furnishing.
Trafficking, selling, or distributing marijuana (outside of the regulatory framework) is also illegal in Maine. Potential penalties are based on the marijuana's weight.
Trafficking or furnishing marijuana can be aggravated or increased in penalty for:
Aggravated furnishing and trafficking charges carry more severe penalties.
- Trafficking or furnishing that involves a child
- Having qualifying prior drug convictions
- Using a gun while trafficking or furnishing
- Committing the crime within 1,000 feet of a school or in a similar zone.
In addition, when a car is used to furnish or traffick marijuana, the defendant's driver's license can be suspended for up to 5 years after he or she is released from jail or prison.
Cultivating marijuana is legal in Maine, as long as individuals don't grow more than three plants at a time. The penalty for cultivating more than this depends on the number of plants, as follows:
- 4 or 5: up to 180 days in jail, $1000 fine
- 5 - 99: up to 364 days in jail, $2,000 fine
- 100 - 499: up to 5 years in prison; $5,000 fine
- 500 or more: up to 10 years; $20,000 fine
Cultivating can also be aggravated by the same factors as furnishing and trafficking (using children to cultivate, using a firearm in the crime, etc.). When aggravated, the crime category is increased by one level.
States prohibit drug paraphernalia or accessories, as well as drugs. Maine law prohibits the trafficking, furnishing, or possession of certain marijuana cultivation or use of accessories such as cutting kits, water bongs, or pipes. However, the law specifically excludes paraphernalia used for licensed medical cannabis providers and licensed adult-use cultivators and retailers.
Sale of drug paraphernalia is generally a Class E crime, but it can be increased to a Class D crime for selling or giving marijuana drug accessories to a child under 16. Advertising illegal drug paraphernalia is a Class E crime.
If you have been charged with a marijuana-related crime, you should talk to an experienced drug crime defense lawyer.
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