It’s pot legalization day in Maine! Here’s how you can and can’t celebrate

Good morning from Augusta. I can report that marijuana has been legal statewide as of 12:01 a.m. At least one end-of-prohibition party is set for tonight in Portland.

But don’t go reefer mad all at once. Maine is now in limbo with its voter-approved law, especially after a moratorium signed Friday by Gov. Paul LePage to delay provisions of the law until February 2018.

In short, possessing and growing marijuana for recreational purposes is now legal, while buying or selling it is not legal yet. The state has until next year to develop rules for regulating new retail stores. Medical marijuana policy hasn’t changed.

Here are some finer points on personal use.

You can:

  • Use, possess, transport and transfer 2.5 ounces of marijuana: This includes prepared marijuana and marijuana concentrate, but you can’t have more than five grams of concentrate. You’re also allowed to give someone that much marijuana, but only for nothing of value in return.
  • Use it in your home, on your lawn and other private property: The law allows consumption in a private residence, plus “curtilage,” and on private property “not generally accessible by the public” with authorization from the owner.
  • Grow up to six mature plants: Along with those, you can have up to 12 immature plants and unlimited seedlings.

You can’t:

  • Use marijuana in public. Just take it inside, people.
  • Or in a vehicle on a public way: This goes for drivers and passengers and applies to concentrates. Be advised that operation under the influence of marijuana is still illegal and dangerous, although it’s often harder police to prove because there’s no standard for marijuana intoxication, like there is for alcohol in blood. Police must prove marijuana OUI cases through a totality of evidence, including sobriety tests, proving erratic driving and blood tests.
  • Or in a daycare facility or workplace smoking area: An exception to the allowance of marijuana in private residence is if it’s used as day care or baby-sitting service. Then, you can’t use it during operating hours. Also, you can’t use it in workplace smoking areas. All of this makes sense.

Doing those things could get you a civil violation limited to a $100 fine. So don’t do it on a day that deserves a few soundtracks. The most subversive marijuana songs are from the old days, so here they are. — Michael Shepherd

Correction: We got some legal jargon wrong relating to marijuana OUI cases. Police must prove them through the totality of evidence and beyond a reasonable doubt, not by the preponderance of evidence, a different standard used in civil cases.


Maine’s first sanctuary city could be Hallowell

One of the first Maine communities to respond to President Donald Trump’s executive order banning citizens of seven Muslim countries may be the progressive mecca just south of Augusta.

State Rep. Charlotte Warren, D-Hallowell, said in a Facebook post on Sunday that she and Mayor Mark Walker are working together on a resolution to go before the City Council next month that would make Hallowell a sanctuary city.

Warren told the BDN that her plan is to ask councilors to bar the police department from cooperating with federal immigration officials. That would separate it from Portland, which has been labeled a sanctuary city by some but isn’t and cooperates with the federal government.

But in Hallowell, it’s mostly a symbolic move: The city is more than 94 percent white with no significant refugee community. — Michael Shepherd


Quick hits

  • Republican Mark Holbrook announced Saturday that he’ll run again for Maine’s 1st Congressional District. He made the announcement at the Republican state committee meeting on Saturday and sent it out widely on Monday. The Brunswick counselor lost handily in 2016 to U.S. Rep. Chellie Pingree, a Democrat, after a narrow win over and ongoing spat with primary opponent Ande Smith. But Holbrook was a massive underdog whose 16-point loss to Pingree was a better showing than expected. Pingree would enter another re-election bid as the favorite, but she hasn’t ruled out a gubernatorial run in 2018.
  • Two potential gubernatorial candidates will speak at a Maine Republican Party breakfast, but only one is a Republican. Maine Department of Health and Human Services Commissioner Mary Mayhew of South China and Moody’s Collision Centers founder Shawn Moody of Gorham will speak at a Feb. 11 breakfast in Old Orchard Beach put on by the York County Republican Committee and two local party committees. Mayhew has been a long-rumored potential gubernatorial candidate to replace the term-limited LePage in 2018, while Moody ran as an independent in 2010 and hasn’t ruled out another run. Moody told the BDN that the Republicans extended the invitation and he’s still an independent “literally and politically.”
  • LePage withdrew a former Cumberland lawmaker’s nomination to a state conservation board on Friday. He did it in a three-sentence letter to House Speaker Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, that didn’t give a reason for withdrawing former Rep. Michael Timmons, R-Cumberland, from consideration for a spot on the Land for Maine’s Future board. But Timmons faced likely opposition from environmentalists, because he was one of six Republicans who voted in 2015 to support a bill cutting the governor out of his bond-issuing role, but then switched their positions to support LePage’s veto. More than $250,000 for a conservation project in Cumberland was held up then and Timmons lost re-election to Democrat Dale Denno in 2016.
  • Town hall tour heads to York: The second stop on LePage’s renewed series of town hall forums, at which he will pitch his proposed two-year budget to Maine voters, will start at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Union Hall, 8 Bluff St., York. The Republican governor last week fielded questions from a somewhat combative crowd in Biddeford during his first town hall forum since August.
  • Former 2nd Congressional District candidate Emily Cain has a new job. HistoryIT, a Portland company that works to make historical collections more accessible and counts the National Baseball Hall of Fame as a client, announced that Cain will be its new chief strategy officer, leading “the company’s strategic growth and business development efforts nationally and internationally.” The Democrat from Orono served 10 years in the Maine Legislature before running losing campaigns in 2014 and 2016 to U.S. Rep. Bruce Poliquin, a Republican from Maine’s 2nd District. — Michael Shepherd and Robert Long

Reading list


Does Ted Cruz really play basketball?

The Republican senator from Texas who once called a hoop a “ring” is now organizing pickup basketball games to improve relations with colleagues, according to POLITICO.

So, we’re looking for photographic evidence of games of one-on-one against U.S. Sen. Angus King. We’re not sure if the Maine independent would win, but he’d at least know what he was shooting at. — Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd

About Michael Shepherd

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after covering state, federal and local issues for the Kennebec Journal for three years. He's a Hallowell native who now lives in Gardiner. He graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and is a graduate student at the University of Southern Maine's Muskie School of Public Service.