The History Of Marijuana In Maine
A JOURNEY THROUGH TIME:
The world of legal cannabis use in Maine has not always been so seemingly accepted. In reality, even today, there is still work left to be done, but it is safe to say we have come a long way. In the past, marijuana possession was punishable by fines, even jail time, and incorrectly seen as a gateway drug and illegal, dangerous substance by many. Slowly a community of fighters worked to change the stigma and turn attention to the possible benefits. Now the support Maine medical marijuana patients find with the variety of options now available grows daily. The journey cannabis has taken through the years in Maine is nothing short of astounding.
From 1913 until the middle of the 1970s, cannabis possession or use was illegal in Maine. In the mid-’70s, the state of Maine joined in the pioneering of history as it became the third state to take steps to begin to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of cannabis. While the general public perception remained heavily against it for many years, this legal shift was an important one. This shift also allowed the discovery of how much good this plant might truly do to grow.
By the end of the 90s, the largely negative public perception had begun to shift, and marijuana use for medicinal reasons had become a more mainstream thought. In 1999 legalizing medicinal marijuana was added to the ballot resulting in a landslide vote in favor of legalizing marijuana for medical use. Maine is truly a pioneer state, but it has taken many more years to come to fruition fully and is still a work in progress.
The laws surrounding the medicinal use of cannabis shifted since 1999 and then expanded in 2009. The changes made medicinal cannabis more accessible, and growth in the Maine marijuana industry soon followed. Caregiver storefronts, dispensaries, and various cannabis-based businesses are now widely found across the state, along with tremendous job opportunities. The massive influx in the industry has boosted Maine’s economy and Maine’s wellness. Another shift in the cannabis laws came in 2015 when recreational use was made legal. Recreational use is still developing, but once again, it has made this state a pioneer. All this for a simple plant — with significant benefits!
BUT – WHO GETS THE CONTROL
While marijuana in Maine is still shifting and growing, the need for control within the industry is often still a source of contention. It is mostly community-controlled within the state and not always a clearly outlined process. Recreational use is unclear and not finalized. Many find it frustrating that things are not clear and that there is still some refusal to admit the medicinal benefits and lack of addictive properties at the national level.
On a national level, cannabis is still federally illegal. Many find the facts surrounding the different outlook from the government frustrating and hypocritical. On a federal level, the general party line is that cannabis is an illegal drug with negative effects and not advised for use. However, when you look at the U.S. Patent No. 6,630, 507, it raises some hypocritical eyebrows. This U.S patent covers the potential for non-psychoactive cannabinoid use as a possible treatment for the protection of the brain from degeneration and damage. The United States Department of Health and Human Services was granted this patent in 2003.
It will be interesting to see what happens both on a state and national level as time progresses. It seems that even on a federal level, there is some increased recognition and knowledge of the benefits of the cannabis plant. We can all hope the legalities continue to shift, and this plant can be fully appreciated and recognized for all that it is and all that it can be for so many.