What happens if you get caught with marijuana in Maine?
The legal status of recreational marijuana in Maine is in flux. Although voters approved the recreational use of marijuana in November 2016, recreational shops licensed by the state government have not yet opened at the time of this writing, and the governor and the legislature have been at odds over the nuts and bolts of how these shops should be regulated.
Meanwhile, recreational marijuana use is still illegal in Maine under federal law. Although the Trump administration is not currently enforcing this law, that might change if the political winds shift. Suffice it to say that in Maine, the recreational use of marijuana is effectively legal but highly regulated, and violation of the remaining restrictions can still get you into trouble.
Marijuana has been around for a long time, and in recent times many states have legalized the use of marijuana for medical purposes. In order to qualify for a medical marijuana ID card from the Maine Department of Health and Human Services, a patient must have one of the eligible conditions and be approved by a licensed doctor:
- Hepatitis C
- Crohn's disease
- Alzheimer's disease
- Pain that has not responded to ordinary medical or surgical measures for more than 6 months
- Severe nausea
- Any other medical condition approved by the Department of Health and Human Services
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Where in Maine can I obtain marijuana legally?
The following options are legal:
- Purchase from a recreational marijuana dispensary, once they open (they are currently scheduled to open in February 2018)
- Purchase from a medical marijuana dispensary, if you have a medical marijuana card
- Grow your own plants, within legal limitations
- Receive marijuana as a gift or share marijuana with a friend
How much marijuana can I legally possess?
You may purchase up to 2.5 ounces and up to three plants (only three of which may be flowering at any one time). If you grow marijuana, you may possess up to six plants flowering simultaneously, plus another 12 plants in reserve. Possessing more than this amount will subject you to ordinary Maine marijuana criminal law, and the penalty could include jail time even for relatively small amounts.
Is there a minimum age for using and purchasing marijuana?
Yes. You must be at least 21 years old to purchase or use marijuana. Keep in mind that even if you are of legal age, it is possible to be arrested for contributing to the delinquency of a minor if you share marijuana with someone who is underage.
Have Maine OUI laws been affected by the legalization of marijuana?
No. Driving while under the influence of marijuana is still illegal for everyone in Maine, and the penalties are just as severe as they are for alcohol intoxication. This stands to reason, of course – alcohol is legal in Maine, yet you can still be arrested for drunken driving.
What is the exclusionary rule, and how might it help me fight a marijuana charge?
The exclusionary rule prevents the use of evidence against you if it was seized in violation of the U.S. Constitution's prohibition against illegal search and seizure. If the police pulled you over for no good reason, for example (perhaps your hairstyle made you “look suspicious”), any evidence they discover during the stop cannot be used in court against you.
How do plea bargains work?
In a plea bargain, you agree to plead guilty to a less serious charge, and in exchange the prosecutor agrees to ask the judge accept your plea. This is only a recommendation, however. Although the judge doesn't have to accept the prosecutor's recommendation, he usually does.
Can I take marijuana out of state if I legally purchased it in Maine?
No. Firstly, that might be a violation of the law of the state into which you took it or over which you crossed. Secondly, even transporting marijuana across a state line that adjoins two states where recreational marijuana is legal is a crime under federal law. Taking marijuana out of state is a bad idea.
Can I sell marijuana independently if I purchased or grew it legally?
No, you can't. To sell it legally, you would have to open a marijuana dispensary licensed by the state of Maine, which would entail compliance with all sorts of regulatory requirements. If you are caught selling marijuana without a license, you will be treated just as you would have been treated before Maine legalized marijuana.
What are the biggest mistakes I can make if I am arrested on a marijuana charge?
- Attempting to represent yourself (by far the biggest mistake you can make)
- Retaining an inexperienced or incompetent criminal defense attorney
- Speaking freely to the police (even if you are innocent)
- Consenting to a search on the mistaken belief that you “have to”
What is “entrapment”?
Entrapment is a legal defense that, if successful, will result in the dismissal of the charge against you. It applies when the police or an agent of the police (a “narc”, for example), entices you into committing a crime that you otherwise would not have been inclined to commit. “Sting” operations normally do not raise the entrapment defense, but they can if the police mishandle the operation.
Are You Facing Marijuana Charges? Get Help Today.
Due to the uncertainties surrounding the law, it's critical that you get help from an experienced attorney if you have been charged with a marijuana-related offense. Get in touch with us today by filling out our short contact form or by calling 207-571-8146.