Maine is set to allow people to legally buy enough cannabis to make 150 joints, after a narrow referendum result was certified by the US state’s Governor.
Almost 800,000 people voted in the referendum in November, with a majority of just under 4,000 people supporting legalisation.
A group opposing the change warned that it would lead to cannabis shops on the high street and marijuana sweets.
In the UK, the Government has rebuffed calls for cannabis to be legalised, highlighting the weight of evidence showing how it damages mental and physical health.
Maine’s Governor, Paul R. LePage, was opposed to legalisation and questioned the validity of the referendum results – which had been subjected to a partial recount.
LePage did however sign the official proclamation approving the change and cannabis is set to be legal for 21-year-olds to possess from the end of January.
Under the law, adults will be allowed to possess 2.5 ounces at a time. This is estimated to be the equivalent of 150 joints.
Mainers Protecting Our Youth and Communities (MPOYC), which opposed the measure, said there were only “weak penalties” for selling the drug to children.
It noted that the law allows the commercial sale of cannabis “edibles and concentrates” as well as ‘pot bars’ where people could go to consume the drug.
Calling for a delay in implementation, MPOYC said: “We must prioritize the health and safety of our communities over the interests of the marijuana industry.”
In the UK, pressure to legalise the Class B drug has come from politicians including Nick Clegg.
But responding to a recent report on the issue, the Home Office said: “There is a substantial body of scientific and medical evidence to show that cannabis is a harmful drug which can damage people’s mental and physical health.
“The UK’s approach on drugs remains clear – we must prevent drug use in our communities and support people dependent on drugs through treatment and recovery.”