Legality of Cannabis by U.S. Jurisdiction

Question 1 (2016) results by county:

In the U.S. state of Maine, marijuana (cannabis) is legal for recreational use. It was originally 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 sought a recount.[4] Opponents of the measure conceded their effort on December 17, after the recount showed no change in the outcome and that the legalization of cannabis in Maine would go forward.[5]


Prohibition (1913)[edit]

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.[6]

Decriminalization (1976)[edit]

In 1976, Maine decriminalized possession of small amounts of cannabis (following 1975 legislation), becoming the third state to do so.[7][8]

Medical marijuana (1999)[edit]

On November 2, 1999, Maine legalized medical marijuana when 62% of the populace voted yes on Question 2.[9]

Decriminalization (2009)[edit]

On May 1, 2009, Maine decriminalized marijuana when Governor John Baldacci signed legislation (LD 250) which made possession of 2+12 ounces (71 g) or less a civil infraction.[10]

Municipal legalization (2013–2014)[edit]

On November 5, 2013, voters in Portland passed Question 1 by 67% which legalized the possession of 2+12 ounces (71 g) within the city's limits.[11][12]

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.[13]

Legalization (2016)[edit]

The Marijuana Legalization Act, which was to take effect within 40 days of November 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. Onsite consumption is permitted under the law in establishments licensed for such activity.[14][15] Retail sales were set to begin in February 2018, in order to allow agencies to form regulations for the new industry.[16]

In November 2017, Governor LePage vetoed a bill to tax and regulate recreational cannabis sales, citing conflicts with federal law.[17] LePage's veto was overturned by the state legislature on May 2, 2018, allowing the bill to become law.[18]

Sales were projected to begin in spring of 2020,[19] though the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the timeline.[20]

After Maine citizens voted to legalize recreational cannabis in November 2016, Maine dispensaries were allowed to sell recreational cannabis products starting October 9, 2020. That year, Maine recorded over $111 million in medical marijuana sales. Currently adult use marijuana sales are taxed at 10 percent. [21][better source needed]

See also[edit]


  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. ^ Question 1 recount finds no change; clears way for marijuana legalization in Maine, WGME Portland News (December 21, 2016).
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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,
  8. ^ Shepherd, Michael (2016-05-04). "What stands between Maine and legal marijuana use? | BDN Maine". Retrieved 2016-11-10.
  9. ^ "Referendum Election Results, Questions 1-3 - November 2, 1999 (Secretary of State, State of Maine, U.S.A.)". 1999-11-02. Archived from the original on November 6, 2014. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  10. ^ "PUBLIC Law, Chapter 67, An Act To Streamline and Clarify Laws Pertaining to the Civil and Criminal Possession of Marijuana". Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  11. ^ "Portland voters legalize marijuana | The Portland Press Herald / Maine Sunday Telegram". 2013-11-07. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  12. ^ "Maine 2013 General Election results — Bangor Daily News — BDN Maine". Archived from the original on 2010-06-12. Retrieved 2014-02-04.
  13. ^ Graham, Gilliam (4 November 2014). "Pot legalization approved in South Portland, defeated in Lewiston". Portland Press Herald. Retrieved 1 March 2015.
  14. ^ "Maine Legalizes Recreational Marijuana". 9 November 2016. Retrieved 2016-11-09.
  15. ^ Patrick Whittle. "Marijuana to become legal in Maine; Question 1 passes with narrow margin". Sun-Journal. Lewiston, Maine. Associated Press. Retrieved 24 January 2021.
  16. ^ "Recreational marijuana is now legal in Maine. Here's what you need to know". 30 January 2017.
  17. ^ "LePage vetoes bill to regulate marijuana sales in Maine". 3 November 2017.
  18. ^ "Recreational marijuana is now legal in Maine – sort of. Now the state has to write the rules". 2 May 2018.
  19. ^ Whittle, Patrick (May 19, 2019). "Maine hopes to avoid pitfalls during marijuana legalization push". Bangor Daily News. Retrieved 2019-05-21.
  20. ^ "Pandemic puts launch of Maine's recreational marijuana market on hold". 10 April 2020.
  21. ^ "Maine Legalizes Recreational Cannabis Sales in 2020".