Although marijuana is now fully legal in the state of Maine, the new law could still present unwanted legal challenges for pot possessors running anywhere close to the Canadian border.
Earlier this week, Chief Daniel Hiebert, the leading U.S. Border Patrol agent in Maine, announced that, despite the state’s recent legalization efforts, border patrol agents would continue to adhere to federal law when it comes to people caught in possession of marijuana.
Although Hiebert admits that agents would not be actively searching for the herb while on patrol or during checkpoints, he told reporters on Monday that the agency would still enforce the pot laws defined by the United States government if and when marijuana is discovered.
“Be careful,” he said, according to the Portland Press Herald. “If they want to keep their marijuana, don’t do anything that is going to get our agents’ attention. Border agents are being told that if you encounter marijuana, go ahead and seize it. But don’t go looking for it because that is not part of our primary mission.”
To complicate matters even more, Hiebert also said that Mainers looking to secure gainful employment with the Border Patrol might want to sever all ties with the cannabis industry. It seems that even maintaining a connection to people involved in the cultivation and sale of marijuana could disqualify them from job opportunities within the agency.
“If someone is thinking about a career in the federal government, they need to think about what they are doing with medical marijuana and recreational marijuana,” Hiebert said.
Last year, Maine voters passed an initiative that makes it completely legal for adults 21 and older to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and cultivate up to six plants for personal use. But the new law does not discount the fact that anything derived from the cannabis plant remains a Schedule I dangerous drug in the eyes of the federal government.
Even while an Obama-era policy dictates a “hands off” approach toward states that have legalized the leaf, directives coming from the Trump administration with respect to this issue seem to be gravitating more toward the restrictive with each passing day.
There is even some speculation that U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions will eventually eliminate or revise the Cole Memo and ramp up marijuana enforcement activity all across the nation.
So far, however, Border Patrol has not received any official order from the Trump administration detailing specific policy changes as it pertains to the enforcement of federal marijuana laws.