PORTLAND, Maine — Recreational marijuana became legal in Maine at 12 a.m. Monday.
The law, which was passed by referendum in November, allows adults 21 and over to legally possess 2.5 ounces of marijuana.
Adults can also have six flowering marijuana plants and 12 nonflowering plants. Driving while high and smoking marijuana in public remain illegal.
The Legislature passed a law pushing the opening of marijuana stores and other marijuana sales in Maine until February 2018. The moratorium also closed a loophole in the new law that allowed legal possession of marijuana by youth.
Gov. Paul LePage said last week he will be issuing an executive order on Monday.
The governor had said last week he wanted the Maine Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages & Lottery Operations to oversee legal marijuana, instead of the Department of Agriculture.
“The era of marijuana prohibition in Maine is finally coming to an end,” David Boyer, Maine political director for the Marijuana Policy Project, said in a statement.
“Responsible adult marijuana consumers will no longer be harassed and treated like criminals,” Boyer said. “Police will be able to spend more time addressing serious crimes rather than punishing adults for using a substance that is safer than alcohol.”?
Question 1, which legalizes and taxes marijuana in Maine, passed by only 4,073 votes, or 0.54 percent. About 30 percent of the total vote was recounted, officials said.?
The final vote as certified by the Secretary of State’s Office was 381,768 yes votes and 377,773 no votes, a 3,995-vote difference.?
Maine joins seven other states and the District of Columbia where recreational marijuana is legal.