Note: Yes the bill states Portland “Allows adults 21 or older to engage in activities for the purpose of ascertaining the possession of marijuana and paraphernalia” but the bill is seeped in vagaries and does not legalize the sale of cannabis. Plus, recreational marijuana shops remain illegal within the state, thus, they simply will not exist and will not exist for quite some time in Maine. While it’s a great step for the movement, it’s not as monumental as most outlets are reporting.
The national news scene has been set ablaze with the news that the East Coast city of Portland, Maine legalized marijuana. And while we hate to kill Portland’s vibe, the win and 70% vote on Question 1 yesterday definitely, unequivocally, did not all-out legalize cannabis in the East Coast city.
In reality, the bill’s victory decriminalized the possession of marijuana in Portland, Maine–purchasing cannabis without a medical marijuana card still remains, unfortunately, very open to interpretation. So while you may be able to walk around the town with up to 2.5 ounces of weed in your pocket without fearing an arrest or a fine, the purchase made to obtain that weed was likely illegal (unless you’re an MMJ patient in Maine).
While the Least Coast legalizing surely provides a great headline–and great for page views–it’s false information to tell an audience marijuana is legal when that’s just a flat out mirage. NORML is the only reform group and outlet to present its readership with an accurate headline.
Nonetheless, yes, this decision (along with similar actions in Michigan) represents progress and is a step in the right direction for Portland and the entire state of Maine. But to suggest that these cities have “legalized” like a Colorado or a Washington with a flimsy headline is straight-up asinine; they decriminalized, which means peace, love, and happiness–not buy your weed at the corner store with an 21+ ID.
Likewise, Maine still only has a handful of medical marijuana dispensaries (Portland has only one), and, in conjunction with the state’s small population and small medical offerings, has a minor amount of medical marijuana patients.
That means most patients and stoners will be purchasing their cannabis illegally, which still–yep–can cause all sorts of legal shenanigans for you. So while Americans plan trips to Portland, Maine to smoke themselves into oblivion, remember: you may be free to possess, but good luck purchasing.
Plus, you know, this plant remains federally illegal…