A group that wants to make it legal to possess marijuana in Maine has unveiled details of a proposal that also would allow adults to grow pot in their homes, protect much of the marijuana retail market for small farmers and permit marijuana social clubs that it says could provide a boost to the state’s tourism industry.

Legalize Maine, a newly formed political action committee, is calling its plan “a home-grown effort” to legalize marijuana in Maine. The group’s organizer, Paul McCarrier, said Wednesday that its proposal can help revive the state’s rural economy.

“We’re doing this for Maine people and to focus on rural farming,” McCarrier said. “Our goal is a rural economic revival. Rural Maine is dying and we need to stop that. Marijuana is not the golden ticket, but it’s part of the solution.”

The effort is separate from another push to legalize recreational marijuana in the state, and it could lead to two separate legalization proposals on the statewide ballot in 2016.

The Washington, D.C.-based Marijuana Policy Project also plans to gather signatures to get legalization on the ballot in two years. That group led a successful push to pass a legalization ordinance in South Portland on Nov. 4, but lost a similar vote in Lewiston the same day.

The Marijuana Policy Project has not released details of its statewide proposal. However, its local legalization proposals include allowing adults 21 and older to possess small amounts of the drug, but do not include rules for growing or selling or allow use of the drug in social clubs.


Marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but Colorado and Washington state legalized the drug for recreational use in 2012. Earlier this month, Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., approved measures to legalize recreational pot.

The newly unveiled proposal already faces opposition from Smart Approaches to Marijuana Maine, a group that emerged to oppose the local legalization votes this month.

“While we do appreciate that this is a Maine-based approach, as opposed to a marijuana-industry funded approach from D.C., we ultimately part ways when it comes to the ideas proposed,” said Scott Gagnon, director of SAM Maine. “In the end, we are concerned about the impact on youth, public health and our economy.”

Gagnon has specifically objected to marijuana social clubs for recreational use, something that has not been allowed in other states where the drug has been declared legal.

The proposal introduced Wednesday has the support of many in the medical marijuana industry. McCarrier was previously a legislative liaison for Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine, a trade group for growers selling to patients who qualify under the state’s medical marijuana law.

McCarrier said Legalize Maine has no interest in combining its efforts with the Marijuana Policy Project and anticipates there could be competing measures on the 2016 ballot.


The Legalize Maine plan would:

n Allow adults 21 and older to possess an unlimited amount of marijuana in their homes, and carry up to 2.5 ounces outside of private residences. Adults who grow their own could also have as many as six flowering plants, 12 non-flowering plants and an unlimited number of seedlings.

n Require people who want to sell marijuana commercially to obtain a cultivation license issued by the state and get permission from the municipality. At least 75 percent of the licenses would go to small-scale farmers, which the group says would prevent large, out-of-state growers from taking over the market.

n Require people who want to make edible marijuana products to obtain a processing license that would allow them to sell the finished product at retail stores or social clubs.

n Tax marijuana sales at 8 percent, the same rate as prepared food, lodging and liquor.

n Allow marijuana social clubs where people could buy and use the drug, as long as they are allowed by local municipalities.


McCarrier said the plan includes strong language about local control. The citizens initiative will include a model ordinance for towns that want to limit where commercial facilities would be located, although towns could not ban people from growing in private residences.

“We believe the best decision-making is made by people who know the area,” he said.

McCarrier said his group will begin a petition drive soon, with a goal of collecting 80,000 signatures statewide. About 61,000 signatures would be needed by January 2016 to qualify for the 2016 ballot, based on the number of votes cast in the Nov. 4 election.

The Marijuana Policy Project, which also plans to collect signatures to get a referendum on the 2016 ballot, does not plan to release details of its legalization plan until next year. David Boyer, spokesman for the Maine effort, has said he hopes the two legalization efforts can work together.

Gillian Graham can be contacted at 791-6315 or at:


Twitter: grahamgillian

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.