About Cases Involving Marijuana in Maine
In Maine, marijuana is distinguished in a number of different ways. Here are some things to know about cases involving marijuana in Maine.
Maine's Medical Marijuana LawWhen a potential client comes to me with a marijuana-related violation, my first question is to find out if the client is in fact a medical marijuana patient. Under Maine's Medical Marijuana Law, the following individuals are permitted to possess marijuana legally: - Medical Marijuana Patients- These people suffer from a serious illness or chronic condition for which a doctor has prescribed the use of medical marijuana. Medical marijuana patients are permitted to possess and use marijuana legally. Additionally, Maine has established a number of legal medical marijuana dispensaries where patients can go to legally purchase their medical marijuana. - Medical Marijuana Caregivers- These people are approved by the State to grow a limited number of marijuana plants for medical marijuana patients, and prepare the marijuana for the patients' consumption. Caregivers can grow and furnish the substance to patients legally, while there are a number of regulations concerning where and how the plants can be grown. At the same time, under the Maine statute, caregivers cannot be compensated for giving the marijuana to the patient. Another question to ask a potential client is whether they intend to become a medical marijuana patient. If the client might be a legitimate candidate to become a medical marijuana patient, then this is important to know and might be relevant for the ultimate outcome of the case. While Maine has recognized a legal medical purpose for marijuana, Federal Law makes no such distinction. Under federal law, marijuana is illegal, period. Therefore, if federal agencies decide to enforce federal law within the State of Maine, then federal law preempts state law in this matter. Absent a medical marijuana patient status, cases involving marijuana in Maine should be approached in a very different way.
"Decriminalized" Civil Violation for Marijuana PossessionMaine has already "decriminalized" possession of small amounts of marijuana in that a person found in possession of less than 2.5 ounces of the substance would not be charged criminally but would be facing a civil violation. However, emphasize to the client that civil violations should not be taken lightly. Here is Maine's landscape concerning civil marijuana violations. - Civil Violation for Marijuana Possession- The penalty for possessing less than 2.5 ounces of marijuana is a fine only. However, the impact on the client could be much greater than the violation simply going on their record, especially if the client is in a profession where any drug use is not tolerated. It is important to be wary of this. - Civil Marijuana Violation and Under 21- It is also considered a civil violation if a juvenile offender is found in possession or using small amounts of marijuana. Again, while the penalty is a fine and the violation going on the juvenile's record, your client will be far more interested to know the long-term effects of a marijuana violation on a young person's life opportunities, such as maintaining eligibility for federal student loans. - Further Decriminalization in the City of Portland, Maine- Most recently, the City of Portland has taken decriminalization of marijuana one step further by passing a new City Ordinance that in effect removes the civil violation from possession of marijuana by adults 21 and older in amounts less than 2.5 ounces. The scope of this law is limited to within the city limits. In the case of Portland, Maine's new more relaxed City ordinance, the Maine State law has not changed, and so if the State wished to enforce State law within the City of Portland, the State could do so by issuing civil violations and criminal charges where appropriate.
Crimes Involving Marijuana in MaineIn most situations with clients, they are facing criminal charges involving marijuana. Under Maine Statute, marijuana is a Schedule Z illegal drug, and activities involving marijuana are crimes, some being felonies, including: - Unlawful Possession in excess of 2.5 Ounces of Marijuana- Possession of marijuana in excess of 2.5 ounces remains a crime. - Cultivating Marijuana- If you are not a medical marijuana patient or caregiver in Maine, growing marijuana plants is a crime. Depending on the number of plants being grown, it could be a misdemeanor or a serious felony. - Unlawful Furnishing Marijuana- Non-aggravated and without a medical marijuana caregiver and patient relationship between the "giver" and "recipient," furnishing marijuana to another person is a misdemeanor crime. - Unlawful Trafficking of Marijuana- In Maine, illegal drug trafficking is a felony. Trafficking is defined as the transportation, distribution, and sale of an illegal drug. In trafficking operations, felony marijuana trafficking involves large quantities of the drug, over one pound. Like most criminal laws, these crimes can be elevated with the presence of aggravating factors, such as the possession of a firearm while committing one of these crimes, committing a crime near a school, and the client's criminal history of felony convictions or other drug-related convictions. The most serious criminal cases are those to approach with an aggressive criminal defense.