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Maine’s Marijuana Laws: Hazy Confusion


The is a lot of uncertainty in Maine around the issue of marijuana laws. And, now that it looks like we won’t be voting on recreational marijuana laws in November, the confusion remains. Traveling with medical marijuana is still problematic. There are a lot issues around driving with marijuana, the definition of driving under the influence of marijuana is still unclear.

Watch the video to find out more about marijuana laws in Maine and learn why there is so much confusion.

If you need help, please email us at or call (207) 221-6363.

marijuana laws in the state of maine

Merritt Hemingway, Criminal Defense Lawyer in Portland, Maine

Here’s the transcript of the video:

Hazy Confusion Around Maine’s Marijuana Laws

In the news today, yesterday it appears that the legalized marijuana forces have failed to gather enough signatures to go into the ballot in state of Maine in November. So while we were anticipating that there would be a vote on whether or not to legalize marijuana in November it now appears that we may not be voting in November on marijuana.

The secretary of state’s office here in Maine has determined that approximately 10,000 signatures of the legalized marijuana folks are invalid and so it maybe be back to the drawing board for them. We’ll see if there is some kind of a court battle about those signatures or not. So it’s undecided whether we’ll get to vote on this issue in November or not.

I think really the tragedy of this mess of marijuana laws that we have right now is uncertainty and confusion among the general population. Right this second folks don’t really know what’s legal and what’s not and it’s hard to sort out. In some states of course, marijuana for any purpose for just recreation is legal. In other states medical marijuana is legal, and of course in other states nothing is legal at all.  Of course at the federal level everything is illegal.

So right now for folks who are not following the issue or folks who are uneducated in the law it’s really difficult to tell what the actual law is about marijuana. Here in the state of Maine possession, simple possession of a small useable amount of marijuana is not a crime it’s a civil conviction. If you are carrying enough of it, it will be a crime. If you are carrying enough of it it could be a trafficking charge would be extremely serious.

But for the most part simply walking around with Marijuana for personal use in the state of Maine, will get you ticket and that’s about it. Medical marijuana with the proper credentials is legal in the state of Maine, but is not legal in many of the places that medical marijuana patients would like to travel to. For example recently had a call in the office of someone who is a medical marijuana patient in the state of Maine and was on vacation to Disney Land in Florida.

This person had mailed themselves some medical marijuana so they could manage their illness while they were on vacation in Florida. While they received a phone call from the postmaster general somewhere around Orlando that said we have a package for you here, it’s plainly marijuana and you have 2 choices, you can come down to pick it up and we’ll arrest you, or we can just destroy it and forget about the whole thing.

Well that was unnerving phone call and we talked about it over the phone quite a bit, and of course it didn’t take me long for my research to confirm what I already knew that of course it’s against federal law to mail yourself marijuana when you are on vacation in Disney Land. Indeed it is against Florida State law to be in possession of such marijuana while you are Disney Land. So although the facts certainly constituted a crime, it’s not surprising at all that this person wouldn’t have though anything of it.

They have been treating themselves with medical marijuana for several years here in Maine for chronic illness that requires that kind of treatment and perhaps didn’t even think about it when they mailed themselves the package to Disney World.

If you are driving in the state of Maine with marijuana in the car, things become problematic, and that if the officer can smell the marijuana in the car that maybe part of probable cause to charge you with OUI or DWI or drunk driving in effect, driving impaired, driving while high. We have several cases in our office right now where we are litigating that exact issue about whether the odor or marijuana can be part of that probable cause analysis.

There are some cases out of Massachusetts, there is just not much litigation on it right now. So this is sort of a new area of law that we are exploring right now. To what extent can the odor of marijuana create part of a criminal investigation? When we are trying to figure out whether the odor of marijuana in a car is evidence of a crime or not, certainly whether or not marijuana becomes recreationally legal in the state of Maine will have a big impact on that analysis.

It’s not illegal to drive around with alcohol in the car, it is illegal to drunk drive. If you have a medical marijuana card it is not illegal to drive around with marijuana in the car but it is illegal to drive high. Now we don’t know what driving high actually means right now, some people think that they can just spot it when they see it other folks don’t.

But if we have a situation where the state of Maine is trying to measure the amount of THC in your blood or using some sort of drug recognition expert or something to determine whether somebody is stoned and driving, that’s very problematic for all the medical marijuana patients that are out there right now. So absolutely legalization recreationally in the state of Maine would help resolve a lot of that uncertainty. 

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