The Coast Guard is warning Maine residents before the 4th of July holiday about federal law concerning cannabis and boating. The military is bound by federal law which supersedes state law, however local Maine marine patrols will not tolerate operating boats under the influence of marijuana despite Maine’s recreational legalization of pot.
The Coast Guard warns it still will enforce federal laws against pot.
Boaters who plan to get out on Maine waters this holiday weekend should prepare to be boarded by federal and state law enforcement officers, who will be out in force as they look for impaired operators as part of the nationwide Operation Dry Water campaign. The annual three-day effort was established in 2009 to raise awareness about the dangers of boating under the influence.
In Maine and the seven other states that have legalized recreational marijuana, the Coast Guard also is threatening fines or even arrest if officers find boat operators in coastal waters to be in possession of pot.
Coast Guard officials say federal law, which still prohibits the possession and use of marijuana, supersedes state law. That means federal agencies such as the Coast Guard plan to fully enforce those laws.
However, the Maine Marine Patrol and the Maine Warden Service enforce only state laws, meaning their officers will not issue a citation or seize the marijuana if the person who has it in their possession is 21 or over, the amount is no more than 2.5 ounces and it is not being consumed in public.
Recreational use of marijuana is now legal in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Colorado, Massachusetts and Maine. Colorado does not have waters that are patrolled by the Coast Guard.
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