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Maine Senate defeats drug decriminalization bill that cleared the House

7/1/21--The Maine Senate on Wednesday defeated a bill that would have decriminalized possession of all currently illicit drugs. As passed by the House, the legislation would have made possession of controlled substances for personal use punishable by a $100 fine, without the threat of incarceration. That fine could also have been waived if a person completed a substance misuse assessment within 45 days of being cited. Read

Bills to halt changes to medical marijuana program advance in Legislature

6/17/21--A bill that supporters believe could help save Maine’s medical marijuana program from a set of controversial proposed rule changes is one step closer to becoming law after receiving initial approval from both the state House of Representatives and Senate. Co-sponsored by Rep. Lynne Williams, D-Bar Harbor, and Sen. Troy Jackson, D-Aroostook, L.D. 1242 would halt a set of proposed rule changes to the medical program and require the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy to consult caregivers, patients, physicians and medical professionals with experience in the industry before making major changes. Read

Decriminalization offers different approach to reduce overdose deaths, incarceration

5/3/21--LD 967, which is supported by the Maine Medical Association, would direct people who want to end or reduce their drug use to treatment programs, which are only sometimes available in jail. Furthermore, LD 967 offers a different, and likely more effective, means of reducing the harmful — and too often deadly — impacts of substance use disorder in Maine. Decriminalizing possession of some drugs can go hand-in-hand with the many efforts in Maine to increase treatment options and to make them more available to those who want them. Read

Maine lawmaker proposes more flexible review of cannabis-related advertising

2/6/21--Rep. Colleen Madigan, D-Waterville, is proposing changes to the state’s marijuana advertising rules following complaints that the current system is too restrictive and subjective., “An Act To Amend the Law Regarding the Advertising and Marketing of Adult Use Marijuana” would strengthen the appeal process for businesses found in violation of the state’s marijuana advertising rules. Despite the title, Madigan said the bill, which is still in draft form, would apply to both medical and recreational businesses. Read

Office of Marijuana Policy unveils new details on planned launch of adult use marijuana in Maine

8/14/20--Today, the Office of Marijuana Policy, a part of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, unveiled plans for the issuance of Maine’s first active licenses for adult use marijuana establishments. The Office intends to issue the first active licenses to recreational cannabis businesses on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Retail sales of adult use marijuana to consumers 21 years of age or older will be permitted starting on Friday, October 9, 2020. Read

Advocates file petition challenging Portland’s cap on marijuana stores

7/17/20--A group of marijuana advocates in Portland filed a petition Friday that seeks to remove the 20-store cap on the number of marijuana retail shops allowed under the local marijuana ordinance approved this spring. The group wants to put the question to a referendum vote in November. The petition also seeks to shrink the minimum buffer between marijuana shops from 250 feet to 100 feet. Read

Federal mental health grants canceled because Maine has legal marijuana

5/16/20--Due to Maine allowing the medical use of marijuana by students, the federal government is cutting off $3.3 million in already approved funding to support mental health programs for youngsters. Read

State releases list showing who’s seeking marijuana business licenses

3/13/20--The Office of Marijuana Policy on Friday made public for the first time the list of about 300 people who are applying for more than 200 state licenses to cash in on Maine’s long-awaited recreational marijuana market. Applicants are seeking to do business throughout Maine, from Kittery to Presque Isle, under corporate names ranging from Green Cures to Weed Mart. Read

Legal marijuana in Maine expected to be in stores by June

3/3/20--The first legal sales of marijuana in Maine are expected in June as the state and municipalities work on issuing licenses. The process can be time consuming. The state Office of Marijuana Policy said it has received nearly 200 applications and deemed 80 of them complete enough for a regulatory review. Read

4 Maine towns passed recreational marijuana rules on Tuesday. Others are still wary.

11/7/19--At least four municipalities passed marijuana-related questions across Maine on Tuesday and three others were rejected, proving that municipalities are still wary of weighing in on the issue before the state opens a new recreational market next year. The measures that passed ran the gamut from setting up ground rules for potential businesses to allowing them outright. Read

Medical marijuana sales slump in Maine

2/14/19--Medical marijuana sales are down in Maine for the second straight year, a decrease that some dispensary owners blame on unfair competition. They say competition from patients growing their own plants or using illegal delivery services has forced them to cut prices. Read

Maine warns against kids ingesting marijuana by accident

10/6/18--Maine says the number of young children accidentally ingesting marijuana has risen from 2 in 2016 to 16 in 2017, citing figures provided by the Northern New England Poison Center. The Maine Department of Health and Human Services says accidental marijuana ingestion often occurs when marijuana is combined with food to create ‘‘edible’’ candy, brownies, and other baked goods. The state says doing so may entice children to eat them without knowing they contain the drug. Read

Maine bill would make it easier to qualify for medical marijuana

3/9/18--A bill to make it easier for Mainers to qualify as medical marijuana patients is getting some legislative backing. Maine Public reports that the Legislature’s Health and Human Services Committee voted Wednesday to support a bill that allows caregivers to expand while accepting tighter regulations. The bill now faces House and Senate votes. Read

Maine lawmaker wants kids to have more access to medical marijuana

1/9/18--According to the Associated Press, Republican politician Deborah Sanderson has proposed a bill that would allow children to be prescribed medical marijuana. Sanderson’s perceived bill mentioned the child would need to have a strong relationship with the medical provider in order to receive the plant as treatment. The incumbent law permits the child’s  caregiver to possess and supervise the allocation of medicinal cannabis at the child’s school, provided that it remains in a non-smokable form. Read

Augusta council divided on marijuana moratorium

11/30/17--City councilors had a sharply divided reaction to a proposal to enact a local six-month moratorium banning the sale of recreational marijuana, with some councilors saying the city and the state already have had more than a year to come up with regulations but failed to do so. Other councilors, however, said the city didn’t enact local rules because officials expected the Legislature to come up with statewide regulations and they didn’t want to waste city staff time coming up with local regulations if they weren’t needed. Read

Maine health officials implement new rules for medical marijuana

11/9/17--Maine is cracking down on the distribution of medical marijuana by allowing surprise inspections and implementing a new patient tracking system. The state Department of Health and Human Services issued new rules that tighten Maine’s medical marijuana market. The Portland Press Herald reports the rules will take effect on Feb. 1. Read

Kennebunkport voters ban retail marijuana stores

11/8/17--Voters in Kennebunkport approved a local referendum question asking residents whether to prohibit retail marijuana establishments and retail marijuana social clubs in their town, which they voted to do, 910-478. Read

Maine lawmakers meet to deal with gov’s marijuana law veto

11/4/17--A two-thirds vote of lawmakers will determine whether or not Gov. Paul LePage’s veto of a bill to regulate and tax the sale of marijuana. The bill that establishes rules for the retail sale of recreational marijuana was previously approved with a veto-proof, two-thirds majority in the Senate, but not in the House. Read

Maine’s governor vetoes marijuana bill

11/3/17--Residents of Maine voted to legalize marijuana in 20126, but Governor Paul LePage vetoed a bill that would regulate and tax the sale of recreational marijuana, dealing a set back to the state's effort to implement retail markets. LePage said one reason he vetoed the bill is because the federal government prohibits cannabis. Read

Is this cannabis B&B the start of New England pot tourism?

10/27/17--John Jones and Alexandra Tuccy, owners of Maine Greenyards, are savvy young ganjapreneurs who want to turn their bed and breakfast (referred to in the article as a "bud and breakfast") into a cannabis winery. They envision guests touring the property to see how marijuana is grown, learning about different varieties, and sampling. They bought the property, located on 16 acres, last December, just after Maine passed a law legalizing marijuana. They were inspired by the booming pot tourism market in Colorado. Read

Legislature sends marijuana regulation bill to LePage, who may kill it

10/23/17--The Maine Legislature endorsed a plan to regulate the state’s new recreational marijuana market to set up a state licensing system for cultivators, stores, marijuana product manufacturers and testers. It passed in both chambers and went to Gov. Paul LePage, but it fell short of the two-thirds threshold in the Maine House of Representatives needed to override an expected veto from the governor. Read

Future of new Maine marijuana laws uncertain after initial votes by lawmakers

10/23/17--A legislative effort to rewrite the Maine recreational marijuana sales law so far lacks enough votes in the House to become law. The Maine House voted 85-53 on Monday evening on comprehensive regulations backed by the Legislature’s marijuana implementation committee. But the bill will likely need at least 101 votes in the House to become law. The bill now heads to the governor’s desk for consideration. Read

Adult-use marijuana bill carefully crafted to make new industry, Maine communities safer

10/21/17--Seventeen lawmakers from both parties agreed to help shape Maine’s adult-use marijuana industry as members of the Joint Select Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee for the 128th Legislature. The draft bill, known as LR 2395, An Act to Amend the Marijuana Legalization Act, makes critical changes to the original referendum while protecting the core tenets of the law as passed by Maine voters. Read

Revenue, cost estimates hazy on marijuana implementation

10/13/17--As lawmakers prepare to vote on adult-use pot rules, a fiscal assessment has 'more cautionary notes than real projections,' according to an article published in the Press Herald. State analysts have yet to calculate the fiscal impact of Maine’s adult-use cannabis bill. Lawmakers tasked with setting up the new recreational market had projected Maine would collect about $21.4 million a year in taxes once the market matured. However, the Legislature’s nonpartisan Office of Fiscal and Program Review's proposed rewrite of a voter-approved cannabis law would have netted even more, about $27.7 million a year. Read

Marijuana convention in Portland bigger than last year’s

10/14/17--The New England Cannabis Network’s Maine Cannabis Convention in Portland comes as the Maine Legislature grapples with a rewrite of the Marijuana Legalization Act approved by a narrow margin by Maine voters last fall. Although the bill has the support of recreational marijuana advocates, its fate in the Legislature is far from certain. If the bill fails, the ballot question voters approved last November will become law – and that, the bill’s advocates say, could open up a black market for marijuana products. That market potential may explain the large crowds showing up at this year’s convention, which far exceeded the last two years. Read

Marijuana bill would let communities decide on allowing recreational pot businesses

10/10/17--According to attorney Amy Tchao of Drummond Woodsum, a last minute change to a proposed legislative rewrite of the Marijuana Legalization Act would make moratoriums and bans on recreational marijuana operations superfluous. The change would require cities and towns to approve adult-use cannabis operations, not forbid them, Woodsum said. Read

Uncertainty surrounds Maine’s recreational marijuana law

10/2/17--There is now a distinct possibility that Maine’s recreational marijuana implementation bill could be shot down. According to a report from the Portland Press-Herald, House Minority Leader Ken Fredette has said that he will likely oppose a bill that a special legislative committee has been working on for months in an attempt to hash out the details of the state’s legal marijuana market. The state’s House leader says the current proposal, which has been nine months in the making, attempts to tackle too many issues at one time. Read

Here’s something: Maine leaders should resist marijuana bill

10/2/17--John Balentine, a former managing editor for Sun Media Group, firmly believes in the need to resist the drug culture any way possible. In his op-ed published in The Forecaster, Balentine states that leaders should do what’s right. According to Balentine, legalizing and normalizing pot is certainly not right; therefore, if leaders don’t act accordingly, he believes a counter-referendum may be in order for 2020. Read

Proposed marijuana rules would let adults buy online and at drive-thrus

9/21/17--Proposed adult-use cannabis regulations from the Legislature’s marijuana committee would allow licensed retail stores to sell pot from drive-up windows and over the internet. Like any other recreational marijuana consumer, drive-up and online customers would have to show identification to the window or delivery employee to prove they are at least 21 years old. Supporters say marijuana purchase regulations should mirror those for alcohol, but opponents warn against making it too easy to buy a drug that's still illegal under federal law. Read

Conflicting advice presented to marijuana rulemakers

9/18/17--When Maine solicited advice on how to set up its new recreational cannabis market, about a dozen groups from all over the country chimed in. Responses released show opinions that varied widely, from those who want to encourage this new industry to those who would rather undo the results of the November referendum that legalized recreational cannabis use. Some want to make sure the state can capitalize on the benefits of adult-use cannabis, while others sought to avoid other states’ mistakes on the road to legalization. Read

Maine judges hear landmark case for pot reimbursements under workers’ comp

9/14/17--In a landmark workers’ compensation case, Gaetan Bourgoin, a 58-year-old paper mill worker who hurt his back in a 1989 work accident, has forced the Maine Supreme Judicial Court to consider whether an employer in Maine, where medical marijuana is legal, must reimburse an injured worker for a drug that remains illegal under federal law, especially when prescription painkillers had failed him miserably. Read

U.S. Border Patrol in Maine warns legalization won’t halt marijuana seizures

8/28/17--Chief Daniel Hiebert, the top U.S. Border Patrol agent in Maine, cautioned residents that officers will still confiscate marijuana when they encounter it, and that even family connections to the cannabis industry can disqualify someone from federal employment. Hiebert said Maine voters’ legalization of recreational marijuana last November, and the state’s well-established medical marijuana program, do not change his agents’ obligation to follow federal law. Read

Marijuana lobbyists harvest cash from bankers, accountants, lawyers and others

9/1/17--Bankers, accountants, lawyers, real estate brokers, and other professionals hoping to serve Maine’s recreational marijuana industry spent much of the $260,000 that has been paid to State House marijuana lobbyists so far in 2017. The money being spent to influence legislation reflects the potential size of the recreational pot market: nearly $300 million in sales a year by 2020, according to one attorney involved in lobbying legislators. Read

Maine State Police seek money for training to fight black market marijuana

8/5/17--Maine State Police want more resources to train officers and to fight the flow of black market marijuana in Maine. However, they are not pushing for major changes to Maine’s existing “operating under the influence” law in the wake of marijuana legalization earlier this year, nor are they advocating for setting a legal limit for cannabis similar to the 0.08 percent blood alcohol content level used to prosecute drunk drivers. Read

US Coast Guard enforces federal marijuana laws on Maine waters

7/28/17--The US Coast Guard wants boaters to know, whether you’re on a commercial fishing vessel or a pleasure craft, marijuana is illegal on the waters they patrol. Whether its just off the coast in Casco Bay or deep out to sea, the US Coast Guard enforces federal law in navigable waters. Under federal law, marijuana is illegal, whether its medical or recreational. Read

Maine legislative panel mulls raising 10 percent tax on marijuana

7/23/17--As the legalization of recreational marijuana sales in Maine nears, a legislative panel has spent months pondering the best way to tax pot to bring in state revenue, fund regulatory enforcement, and discourage the illicit market. The referendum included licensing fees as well as a 10 percent tax on sales by retail marijuana stores and social clubs, but nothing has been decided yet. Maine is looking at examples from others states, some of which also allow local taxes. Read

What Maine’s new recreational marijuana market will look like

7/24/19--Voters backed legalization by a slim margin in the 2016 election, approving a law allowing Mainers over age 21 to possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana. It’s too early to tell what the market will look like, but the industry is watching closely. Paul Armentaro, the deputy director of NORML, a national pro-legalization group, said Maine’s initiative as written is “one of the more progressive regulatory schemes with regard to marijuana in the country.” Read

Blue Hill selectmen to propose marijuana prohibition ordinance

6/17/17--The Blue Hill Board of Selectmen intends to present a marijuana prohibition ordinance to voters this summer. Blue Hill Selectman Jim Schatz suggested presenting an ordinance that would prohibit retail marijuana businesses in Blue Hill to voters in August or September. Blue Hill voters were split about whether the town should allow cultivation businesses as well as retail stores. However, a larger margin of voters indicated opposition to marijuana social clubs. Read

Wells voters ban recreational marijuana

6/14/17--Residents voted to ban recreational marijuana in Wells by approving an article on Tuesday's town meeting warrant that amends the Land Use Ordinance to prohibit marijuana retail and social clubs. Read

Sales growth at Maine’s medical marijuana dispensaries slows drastically

5/12/17--Medical marijuana sales at Maine’s eight dispensaries are growing at the slowest rate since the first one opened in 2011. However, growth on the caregiver side of the market appears to be surging, possibly topping dispensary sales. Timothy Smale, president of the Maine Dispensary Operators Association, attributed the slower growth to patients deciding not to renew their medical certifications, and turning to the thriving black market to find cheaper marijuana products. Read

Portland mayor decries 4/20 marijuana giveaway

4/23/17--Portland Mayor Ethan Strimling said he’s disappointed by a free pot giveaway in Monument Square that drew a long line of people and a cloud of smoke. Under state law and city ordinance, marijuana can’t be used in public, but the crowd enjoyed it anyway, uninterrupted. It’s the first “holiday” since Maine voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use in November, allowing adults age 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces. Read

Neighbors of York medical marijuana facility raise odor, groundwater, lifestyle issues

4/12/17--A group of neighbors near a medical marijuana grow facility on White Birch Lane said they are frustrated by the anonymity of the owners and tenants, a situation that creates a sense of unease in the neighborhood dating back years. They also worry about the values of their homes — particularly if a recreational grow facility is created there. Read

A real estate boom, powered by pot

4/1/17--Legalized marijuana is having an effect on the real estate market. From Monterey, Calif., to Portland, Me., the new industry is sending property values soaring. Landlords and property owners are charging a premium for new tenants working in the cannabis business. So far, the uptick in property prices from the marijuana business is concentrated in some of the states that have legalized medical and recreational use. Read

Should Bangor, Maine, get into the marijuana business?

3/21/17--The mayor of Bangor, Maine, has proposed the possibility of opening a city-run retail marijuana shop. Council chair Joe Baldacci believes it would help the city keep control over the way marijuana is sold, while ensuring revenue stays local. In order to open a city-run store, Baldacci said the council would have to create a nonprofit that manages it. He said it would be the sole vendor of pot in the city. Read

Recreational marijuana becomes legal in Maine

1/30/17--Recreational marijuana is officially legal in Maine. Adults 21 years and older can now use and possess two-and-a-half ounces of marijuana. They can also legally grow up to six mature plants and 12 immature plants. Retail sale of cannabis will be allowed when the moratorium ends in February 2018. Read

State lawmakers unanimously pass marijuana moratorium

1/26/16--Maine legislators unanimously passed a bill Thursday that puts new regulations on legal pot. It would make it illegal for children to have the drug and illegal to smoke in a car, among other new rules. The governor has 10 days to decide if he's going to sign or veto the law, and he says he may use all 10. Read

Maine marijuana law could be delayed until 2018

1/14/17--Marijuana will be legal in Maine starting January 30, but the date when Mainers can actually buy it at a store remains unknown. Senate President Michael Thibodeau, R-Waldo, and State Rep. Louis Luchini, D-Ellsworth, introduced a bill that would delay retail marijuana sales until February 2018. The proposal awaits a formal vote in the coming weeks. Read

Maine legislative leaders agree on deal to delay parts of Maine marijuana law

1/11/17--Lawmakers say they need more time to come up with rules around legal pot, so Maine's senate president and house speaker are looking to delay major provisions of Question 1. Lawmakers expect to have the marijuana rules and regulations in place by February 1, 2018. However, unless both houses pass this as emergency legislation, it will be at least another three months before any marijuana can be sold or taxed in Maine. Read

A retail marijuana moratorium is necessary to defend public health

1/4/17--Lawmakers have said for the past month that one of their biggest issues will be implementing the marijuana legalization law passed by voters in the referendum. That law will take effect January 30, but some legislators are already saying they should enact a moratorium to delay it. The argument they make is that there are too many details to work out during the just-started, six-month session. Read

Maine communities putting brakes on marijuana sales

12/27/16--Some towns and cities are putting the brakes on marijuana sales in Maine by blocking retailers from setting up shop. From Bangor to Portland, municipalities have enacted moratoriums on marijuana sales to determine zoning rules for retailers. Read

Visions of legal made-in-Maine pot brownies dance in their heads

12/26/16--Mainers planning to cash in on pot’s legalization by infusing food with cannabis fret their dreams may go up in smoke, but they are still pushing toward production of made-in-Maine pot goodies. Edibles and other infused products are on target to account for half the billion-dollar industry nationally, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. But, before the green rush arrives in Maine, numerous hurdles have to be cleared. Read

Towns consider moratoriums after Maine voters legalize marijuana

12/23/16--Towns and cities around Maine are taking a cautious approach to the new state law that legalizes marijuana and are considering moratoriums on the sale of the drug within their limits. The Maine Municipal Association is advising towns and cities to adopt moratoriums to prevent "unwanted developments" with new marijuana businesses until the regulations, including local guidelines, are approved. Read

Belfast weighs delay on marijuana sales, social clubs

12/23/16--Belfast is considering a moratorium on retail marijuana to give city officials time to craft local rules and regulations around its sale and use in social clubs. The council passed a first reading of a proposed 180-day moratorium Tuesday night. After one more reading, the council will hold a public hearing on the proposal before deciding whether to approve it. If the moratorium passes, it would begin immediately. Read

Backers and foes of legalized marijuana disagree on school impact

11/18/16--School safety and law enforcement officials, who had vigorously opposed Ballot Question 4, are warning normalization of the drug will cause significant problems in local schools. Worcester schools’ safety director Robert Pezzella says this is a big concern for a lot of people, and marijuana will become more accessible to teenagers. Meanwhile, Question 4 advocates believe the law is already cautious enough, and that fears of marijuana becoming more accessible to underage users are unfounded. Read

In Maine elections, big spenders weren’t always big winners

11/20/16--Campaigns across Maine spent more than $40 million during the 2016 election, ampoule shattering previous records but also proving that big spending doesn’t guarantee wins at the ballot box. The 2016 elections raised the ceiling for political spending in Maine as national organizations poured tens of millions of dollars into candidates and ballot issues. Read

Recounts requested by opponents of legal pot

11/16/16--Opponents of legalizing recreational marijuana and a 3 percent surtax to support public education have officially requested recounts of ballots after razor-thin margins on Election Day. The recounts have not yet been scheduled. Read

Question 1 opponents taking steps to request recount

11/11/16--Opponents of Question 1 are taking steps to request a recount after voters narrowly approved the referendum that legalizes recreational marijuana on Election Day. The vote was close, within a fraction of a percentage point. The No on 1 campaign must gather enough petition signatures to request a recount within five business days following the election. Read

Bloc of 4,000 overseas voters to decide Maine marijuana vote

11/10/16--A larger-than-expected number of overseas absentee ballots will play a big role in deciding whether marijuana becomes legal in Maine. The secretary of state’s office said the biggest remaining bloc of uncounted votes was from more than 4,000 overseas absentee voters. Results so far show voters for the proposal is less than 1 percent with more than 95 percent of votes counted. Read

Damariscotta considers temporary ban of marijuana shops, clubs

fb-square-english-spanish11/4/16--If voters approve Question 1 at the polls Tuesday, Nov. 8, the Damariscotta Board of Selectmen will consider a temporary ban on marijuana establishments and social clubs. Other municipalities have adopted six-month moratoriums to give themselves time to establish regulations about where marijuana could be publicly sold or consumed, Chair Robin Mayer said. The selectmen will discuss the possibility of a moratorium during their next meeting on Wednesday, Nov. 16. Read

Donations from out-of-state groups driving marijuana campaign

11/5/16---Campaigns on both sides of the issue are funded primarily by groups not based within Maine, campaign finance reports show. The campaign to legalize marijuana in Maine has been funded largely by New Approach and donors with similar philosophies on drug policy reform, while opponents have depended primarily on individuals and a single nonprofit organization for donations. Read