Since the legalization of recreational marijuana use in Maine this January, we have started to see a gradual transformation in all aspects of Maine’s society. From governmental regulations and legislations, to community adaptations and economic concerns, recreational marijuana has largely impacted Maine residents within the past three months. We are beginning to witness a total transformation of lifestyle here in the Vacation State.
One of the most compelling arguments that led to the eventual vote to legalization was the industry itself. Marijuana has been one of the highest in-demand products in the U.S. for close to a decade. In the last few years, product and services sales have steadily increased, and the legalization of the drug will only further that demand. It was estimated by ArcView Market Research that by the year 2021, marijuana will be a $21 billion industry. Considering the financial advantages alone, legalization was a no-brainer.
The benefits of recreational marijuana use and sale were clearly a win for Maine residents, but it is not without government involvement. As with all federal and state projects, recreational marijuana is now subject to strict government regulations. Virtually all aspects of society are impacted by the recent legislation, as well. Economically, marijuana producers and buyers will soon be subject to state and potentially federal tax for the product. It is not certain yet if the introduction of a drug tax was intended to deter marijuana usage, or if it is solely the government getting their share of the financial income.
Socially, Mainers also face prohibitions to the drug. Recreational marijuana consumption will now be considered a form of intoxication. Maine residents are strongly discouraged from driving while impaired and the offense can even be charged as an OUI. There is not yet any physical test to determine whether a driver is under the influence of marijuana, such as a breathalyzer for alcohol intoxication, but police are beginning to develop new investigative methods.
In another highly contested Maine issue, legalization raises concerns about firearm safety. It appears that the majority of Mainers are not aware that avid marijuana smoking prohibits residents from purchasing guns. Conversely, it also prohibits dealers from selling firearms to marijuana users as the drug continues to be illegal on the federal level. This could greatly affect weapon sales in Maine, and lead to a drastic decrease in guns altogether.
It is necessary to recognize, as well, that marijuana is still illegal for people under the age of 21. Similar to alcohol restrictions, underage marijuana use can have serious consequences for Mainers. Smoking in public, for instance, will now result in a minimum of a $100 fine. Other consequences are certain to follow in regards to marijuana growing for personal use or sale. With only less than three months into the regulation, we have yet to see whether the legalization of weed will pay off for Mainers in the future.