Rep. David Boyer, R-Poland, is pictured in the House chamber at the Maine State House on Dec. 7, 2022. Credit: Troy R. Bennett / BDN

Maine lawmakers are preparing marijuana policy shifts, returning to an old home-growing limit and making criminal justice changes as well.

The shift is being led by a bipartisan coalition of lawmakers, with Rep. David Boyer, R-Poland, a freshman who led the 2016 recreational marijuana legalization campaign that narrowly passed, working with Democrats to move through these changes.

The context: One of Boyer’s bills would raise the number of plants that Mainers are allowed to grow at home from three to six, matching the legalization referendum that Boyer led in 2016 but was later reined in by lawmakers and former Gov. Paul LePage. Mills, whose administration did not weigh in on the idea, allowed that measure to pass into law without her signature.

Two others working their way through the Legislature would break with federal law by allowing Mainers to consume cannabis and own or use a firearm and loosening probation and parole rules to allow for casual marijuana use. Prosecutors opposed the latter change.

The first one has cleared both chambers in initial votes, while the second has been enacted and is on the governor’s desk.

What’s next: There is clearly a bipartisan effort afoot to further normalize marijuana. At the same time, Boyer and other advocates have challenged the Mills administration on enforcement of Maine’s laws, criticizing it earlier this year for not doing alcohol-style checks on recreational stores to look at underage enforcement.

Tension between the divergent recreational and medical sides of Maine’s program will linger, but lawmakers will likely continue to make tweaks to these laws at the individual level.

Michael Shepherd joined the Bangor Daily News in 2015 after time at the Kennebec Journal. He lives in Augusta, graduated from the University of Maine in 2012 and has a master's degree from the University...