Since 2017, recreational marijuana is legal in Maine, with some often ignored limitations. Over a year later, we still have people charged with civil infractions and criminal offenses related to using and possessing marijuana. The first thing they say during their consultation is always the same: “but it's legal now!” There are several restrictions the Legislature placed on possessing marijuana back in 2017, and incorporated punishments for each type of infraction.
Quantity: Under Maine law, people can possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana recreationally. However, any more marijuana in your possession can lead to criminal charges of Unlawful Possession of a Scheduled Drug. A “scheduled” drug is one monitored and regulated by the state and federal government. Possessing more than 2.5 ounces up to 8 ounces is a Class E misdemeanor crime, with a maximum sentence of six months in jail and a $1,000.00 fine. From 8 ounces to one pound is a Class D misdemeanor crime, with a maximum sentence of 364 days in jail and a $2,000.00 fine. Possessing over one pound to twenty pounds is a Class C felony, with a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000.00 fine. Possessing more than twenty pounds of marijuana is a Class B felony, carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a $10,000.00 fine. While there is no minimum jail requirement on a first offense possession charge, there is a mandatory $400.00 fine imposed on anyone who is convicted of unlawfully possessing marijuana.
Age: In order to legally possess marijuana recreationally, you must be twenty-one years old. If someone is eighteen (18) to twenty (20) years old, possessing marijuana from any useable amount to 1.25 ounces can result in a civil violation with a $350 - $600 fine. If someone in that age range possesses more than 1.25 ounces up to 2.5 ounces can result in a civil fine with a $750 - $1,000 fine. Even having civil violations for marijuana possession can and likely will affect your ability to obtain financial aid for college, and can have other consequences for young people to develop their lives and careers. Even if you're just facing a civil violation, it is important to hire a defense attorney to protect yourself from long-term consequences.
The Maine Medical Marijuana Act allows medical marijuana users to possess 2.5 ounces for medicinal purposes. Any possession over 2.5 ounces follows the structure of underage possession of marijuana, explained above. If you are a medical marijuana user, it is important to make sure all forms and guidelines are followed, as this could mean the difference between a civil violation and a criminal charge if you possess over 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
Another important, and often forgotten, issue with marijuana is that it is still illegal to possess marijuana under federal law. Furthermore, using marijuana can trigger a federal firearm ban. 18 U.S.C. § 922(d)(3) prohibits people who are unlawful users of, or addicted to, a controlled substance from using or possessing firearms. Since marijuana is a controlled substance, anyone who unlawfully uses it is subject to the firearm ban.
Unlawful Possession of a Scheduled Drug is a serious offense that can affect several aspects of someone's life long term, such as getting financial aid for college, traveling out of the country, and passing background checks for employment. If you are charged with Unlawful Possession of a Scheduled Drug, call the attorneys of WTB LAW immediately for a consultation.