Marijuana to become legal in Maine; Question 1 passes with narrow margin

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UPDATED 2:54 P.M. | PORTLAND — Maine voters have approved a ballot question making recreational marijuana legal for adults age 21 or older.

The proposal will allow Maine residents to cultivate, manufacture, distribute, test and sell marijuana and marijuana products. Marijuana will be taxed at 10 percent and subject to local restrictions.

The vote was close, within a fraction of a percentage point. The Associated Press made the call Thursday, two days after Election Day.

Parents groups and some law enforcement organizations opposed the proposal. The proposal also received some scrutiny from members of the medical marijuana community, who fear it will replace the state’s medical program.

The statewide approval follows previous votes to legalize pot at the city level in Portland and South Portland in recent years. The city of Lewiston shot down a similar proposal.

Medical marijuana is already legal in Maine.

Opponents have already vowed to request a recount. With the vote so close, they would not have to make a financial deposit.

“We’re standing firm,” said Scott Gagnon, an organizer of a campaign against legalization. “We just think, when it’s this close, that we owe it to our supporters, and the nearly half of Maine that’s already voted no.”

Winners predicted home cultivation of marijuana would be legal by around Christmas.

“The Maine people have passed it, and we should work on implementing it,” said Republican state Sen. Eric Brakey, of Auburn, who supported the ballot issue.

If approved, people 21 or older could use up to 2½ ounces of marijuana, and retail marijuana shops and social clubs could open around the state. Some municipalities have balked at allowing such businesses to open in their communities.

California, Nevada and Massachusetts passed similar measures this year.

Associated Press writer David Sharp in Portland contributed to this report.

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