Augusta, ME: Democrat Gov. John Baldacci signed legislation on Friday expanding the state’s longstanding marijuana ‘decriminalization’ law.
Under current law, possession of up to 1.25 ounces of marijuana is treated as an infraction, punishable by a fine of no more than $600. Defendants who possess greater amounts are presumed to be engaging in the sale of cannabis and face criminal penalties and potential jail time.
The newly approved legislation (LD 250) states that the possession of over 1.25 ounces but less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana will also be defined as a civil offense, punishable by a fine of $700 to $1,000 dollars. (Civil fines for the possession of less than 1.25 ounces of marijuana will remain the same.) The new law also removes the inference that the possession of quantities of marijuana above 1.25 ounces but less than 2.5 ounces is presumed to be for sale.
“Maine’s new law will save prosecutorial resources and it makes common sense,” NORML Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said. “It is expensive and illogical to presume that minor marijuana offenders are criminal traffickers. Kudos to the Maine legislature and to the Governor for supporting this effort to revise the state’s longstanding cannabis decriminalization law.”
The new law takes effect 90 days following adjournment of the state legislature.
To date, 13 states – including Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nebraska, and Ohio – have enacted versions of marijuana decriminalization, replacing criminal penalties and jail time for the personal possession of cannabis with the imposition of nominal fines. Only one state, Ohio, treats the possession of more than 2.5 ounces of cannabis as a fine-only (no jail) offense.
For more information, please contact Allen St. Pierre, NORML Executive Director, at, (202) 483-5500.