By: Webb Law Intern Kayla Estes
Is Marijuana Legal Under Federal Law?
Marijuana is currently illegal under federal law. Federal law divides each drug into a “schedule” classification according to its properties. Schedule I drugs include almost all illegal drugs, while Schedule V drugs are the least addicting, such as some cough medicines. Schedule I drugs carry the most severe punishments under federal law.
Despite numerous states’ laws permitting marijuana use, the federal government currently classifies marijuana as a Schedule I controlled substance. In other words, the federal government views marijuana to be a drug with a high potential for abuse and a lack of medical value. Meaning, under federal law, the use of marijuana is illegal for any reason.
Is Marijuana Legal Under Maine Law?
Marijuana use, both medical and recreational, is legal in Maine, but there are limitations. First, you must be at least 21 years old to use marijuana legally in Maine. If you are not 21 or older, you are in violation in the law.
Second, assuming you are at least 21 years old, the law allows you to possess as much as 2.5 ounces of marijuana or 2.5 ounces of a combination of marijuana and a marijuana concentrate that includes no more than 5 grams of marijuana concentrate.
Next, it is still illegal to drive a vehicle while under the influence of marijuana. The law prohibits you from consuming marijuana if you are the operator or passenger in a vehicle on a public roadway.
Additionally, the law prohibits marijuana use in public places. You may consume marijuana or marijuana products in two instances. Marijuana may be legally consumed if you are in a private residence or its curtilage, which is the area immediately surrounding the private residence. Likewise, you may consume marijuana or marijuana products if they are on private property that is not generally accessible by the public, and you are explicitly permitted to consume marijuana on the property by the owner of such property. However, it is still illegal to consume marijuana products in a location used as a babysitting or daycare service at the time of consumption.
Finally, purchasing or selling marijuana is currently still illegal in Maine. The law allows you to use marijuana that you have grown yourself (subject to additional restrictions) and marijuana that has been given to you with no exchange of value.
How Can Marijuana Be Legal in State and Illegal Federally?
At this point, you are probably wondering how marijuana could be legal under Maine law, but still illegal under federal law. States have the ability to govern themselves, but the federal law is still the supreme law of the United States, meaning that federal laws typically pre-empt state laws when the two conflict.
That being said, states are not necessarily prohibited from enacting their own statutes decriminalizing marijuana. But the Supreme Court has stated that compliance with state law is not a shield from federal prosecution. Essentially, it is important to understand that while you may legally possess marijuana under Maine rules, you can still be subject to federal sanctions for that same possession.
If you are stopped or contacted by a law enforcement officer for “Operating Under the Influence of Alcohol or Drugs”, possession of a controlled drug or any alleged motor vehicle or criminal offense, call the Webb Law Firm at 207-283-6400 and arrange a free consultation to discuss your case. Please contact us today. We provide a free initial consultation to go over your case with you.