Maine Regulators Update Medical Marijuana Rules

MAINE:  The Office of Marijuana Policy today released preliminary draft rules meant to bring the state’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program regulations into congruence with state law. Administrative rulemaking is a standard process within government and, in this case, necessitated due to significant changes that have been made to state law since rules were last revised in February 2018, pre-dating the creation of OMP.

In addition to being thematically reorganized to better reflect the structure of Maine’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program, one of the most notable changes included in the draft is the introduction of a process by which medical marijuana establishments are regulated at the local level prior to state review, as is currently mandated by law. Additionally, the draft rules include provisions for inventory tracking to enhance accountability and transparency and delineate packaging and labeling requirements that prioritize patient protections.

“Along with being more user-friendly, these draft rules are meant to address changes to state law over the last two years. This draft framework will further ensure our regulatory priorities of safety, accountability, and transparency,” said OMP Director Erik Gundersen. “As relationships with local communities, industry, and other stakeholders are at the heart of all we do, we look forward to connecting with the public throughout the rule-making process.”

Current plans call for OMP to engage in both an informal and formal public comment period as it considers and develops revisions to the revamped medical rule. This approach is modeled after OMP’s development of the adult use program’s rules, an experience which allowed the Office to receive critical feedback and, ultimately, propose a better rule when beginning the formal rulemaking process defined by the Maine Administrative Procedures Act.

A copy of the preliminary draft rules is currently available for review on the OMP website: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/medical-use/rules-statutes/rulemaking/draft-rules. Parties interested in providing feedback in response to the preliminary draft rules may do so through the following page: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/medical-use/rules-statutes/rulemaking/feedback.

In line with the state’s standard rule-making process, the preliminary draft will transition into a proposed rule over the coming weeks, and OMP will begin the public hearing and public comment phase required by statute. A final draft of the proposed rule will be provided at least 20 days prior to the date of a scheduled public hearing. Following the public hearing, at least 10 days of written public comment will be allowed.

Once the public comment period concludes, OMP will review and consider all feedback received, make any appropriate revisions to the proposed rule, and complete final adoption.

Office of Marijuana Policy Unveils New Details On Planned Launch Of Adult Use Marijuana In Maine

Retail sales to the public permitted to begin on or after October 9, 2020.

MAINE: The Office of Marijuana Policy, a part of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, unveiled plans for the issuance of Maine’s first active licenses for adult use marijuana establishments. The Office intends to issue the first active licenses to recreational cannabis businesses on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Retail sales of adult use marijuana to consumers 21 years of age or older will be permitted starting on Friday, October 9, 2020.

The issuance of active licenses will continue the Office of Marijuana Policy’s structured rollout of Maine’s nascent adult use industry, which had been indefinitely postponed in April in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The public’s health and safety are at the forefront of every decision we make at the Office of Marijuana Policy,” said OMP Director Erik Gundersen. “While we were poised to launch this new industry earlier this year, we were unwilling to sacrifice the high standards we have set for this program by launching during an emerging public health pandemic and in the absence of a testing facility. With the support of the public health community, municipalities across the state, and the industry we regulate, we have used the last few months to ensure this new industry is introduced to Maine consumers in a manner that is as responsible as possible.”

Active licensure is the culmination of a three-step application process which also includes conditional licensure and local authorization, respectively. An active license is required for adult use establishments to come into possession, process and sell adult use marijuana, including initiating plant transfers from Maine’s existing medical marijuana program.

It is expected adult use licensees will utilize the time between active licensure and Maine’s retail sales launch date to harvest and process marijuana, ensure those products satisfy the mandatory testing requirements, and move product through the supply chain to stock retail store shelves. Additionally, businesses which will conduct retail sales will prepare to implement and support social distancing and other public health guidance at a time when public interest may attract a significant consumer presence to their retail locations.

“Today’s announcement is a major milestone in honoring the will of Maine voters and a significant step toward launching a new industry in the state,” added Gundersen. “Many of the business owners we have spoken with during the application process are ready and eager to commence operations.”

The application process required by the adult use law requires state regulators to review application materials for form and substance, with an eye toward details such as ensuring that all applicants have completed their required state and federal criminal history record checks; that the establishment’s operation, facility, and security plans satisfy the requirements of both the Marijuana Legalization Act and the adult use program rule; and that the designated host municipality has provided the applicant with authorization to conduct business in their community.

OMP expects to issue licenses in each of the four categories of adult use establishments: cultivation, products manufacturing, retail sale, and testing. Information on the specific number of licenses issued and the identities of active licensees will be made available on Tuesday, September 8, 2020.

The Mills Administration created OMP within DAFS in February 2019. The Office is responsible for the oversight of all aspects of legalized marijuana, including Maine’s existing Medical Use of Marijuana Program.

Maine: 17 New Adult Use Conditional Licenses Issued

MAINE: How big is Maine’s new adult-use cannabis industry? According to the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy, there are 17 new adult use conditional licenses. The breakdown includes seven marijuana stores, five cultivation facilities, four products manufacturing facilities, and one testing facility.

Maine: Voter-Initiated Retail Cannabis Sales Face Further Delays

MAINE: Lawmakers have once again pushed back plans to establish licensing rules and regulations to govern the commercial production and retail sale of marijuana to adults.

Voters initially approved the legalization of cannabis sales in November 2016, but lawmakers – led by former Republican Gov. Paul LePage – have repeatedly taken steps to delay the law’s implementation.

On Friday, state officials rescinded a contract with the consulting group that had been hired to assist in drafting regulations to implement the law. Those regulations were anticipated to be finalized by April. Officials declined to speculate on a new timeline, according to the Associated Press.

Newly elected Gov. Janet Mills (D) is on record stating that lawmakers “must follow the will of the people [and] implement the [voter-initiated marijuana] law.”


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

Maine Governor Vetoes Retail Legalization Implementation

MAINE: Republican Gov. Paul LePage last week vetoed legislation that sought to regulate the production and sales of cannabis to adults. Members of the House and Senate approved the legislation late last month during a one-day special session, but did so without a veto-proof majority. (Members of the Senate voted 22-9 in favor of the bill. Members of the House voted 81-50 in favor of the bill.)

LePage said, “Until I clearly understand how the federal government intends to treat states that seek to legalize marijuana, I cannot in good conscience support any scheme in state law to implement expansion of legal marijuana in Maine.”

The Governor’s veto reverses a campaign pledge where he indicated that he would support the enactment of adult use regulation if it was approved by a voter referendum.

A majority of Maine voters decided last November in favor of a statewide initiative legalizing the adult use, retail production, and licensed sale of marijuana. Governor LePage lobbied against the measure and in January lawmakers passed emergency legislation delaying the enactment of many of its provisions until February 2018. Since that time, the Governor has refused to work with lawmakers with regard to how to regulate marijuana sales and other provisions of the law. The Governor did endorse legislation that sought to delay any further implementation of the law until 2019, but lawmakers defeated that measure.

The Governor’s veto, if not overridden by lawmakers, will further delay the ability of legislators to regulate the commercial cannabis market in a manner that comports with the voters’ mandate.

 

Maine: Governor Threatens To Veto Legislation Regulating Voter-Approved Cannabis Sales

UPDATE:  Maine Governor Vetoes Retail Legalization Implementation

MAINE: Republican Gov. Paul LePage has threatened to veto legislation regulating the production and sales of cannabis to adults. Members of the House and Senate approved the legislation this week during a one-day special session, but did so without a veto-proof majority.

A majority of Maine voters decided last November in favor of a statewide initiative legalizing the adult use, retail production, and licensed sale of marijuana. Governor LePage lobbied against the measure and in January lawmakers passed emergency legislation delaying the enactment of many of its provisions until February 2018. Since that time, the Governor has refused to work with lawmakers with regard to how to regulate marijuana sales and other provisions of the law. The Governor did endorse legislation that sought to delay any further implementation of the law until 2019, but lawmakers defeated that measure.

Governor LePage has until November 3 to either sign the legislation, veto it, or let it become law absent his signature.

Presently, adults may legally possess, consume, and cultivate personal use quantities of cannabis, but no regulations exist governing its retail production or sale.


For more information, contact Justin Strekal, NORML Political Director, at (202) 483-5500.

Marijuana ‘Gifts’ Legal As Maine Works Out Licensing Rules

By The Associated Press 

MAINE:  A Biddeford business owner hoping to start selling pot next year is giving his products away for free for now.

The Portland Press Herald reports that Jack Sargent of the Biddeford-based Cannabis Shack is accepting donations for shipping and handling while waiting for the state to issue retail licenses.  It’s legal to accept free gifts of pot and some say the limbo before the opening of retail stores is pushing otherwise law-abiding citizens into an underground market.

Some states have cracked down on such practices. The voter-approved law legalizing marijuana took effect in January.  Adults can legally possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and grow their own plants.  But no one can legally sell pot as Maine works through the extensive process of regulating the sale of marijuana.

Maine: Voter-Initiated Changes In Law Eliminate Marijuana Possession Penalties

MAINE:  Maine became the eighth state to eliminate criminal penalties specific to the adult possession and personal use of cannabis.

Language in Question 1: The Marijuana Legalization Act, specific to the private possession and cultivation of marijuana by adults, took effect on Monday. Maine voters narrowly passed Question 1 on Election Day.

The new law permits adults who are not participating in the state’s existing medical cannabis program to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana and/or the harvest from up to six mature plants.

Public use of marijuana is a civil infraction punishable by a $100 fine.

In response to voters’ approval of Question 1, Maine lawmakers passed separate legislation last week, LD 88, also permitting adults to possess up to five grams of marijuana concentrates. However, other provisions in the measure delay the implementation of retail marijuana sales until at least February 1, 2018. It also prohibits the possession of “edible retail marijuana products” until this date.

Alaska, California, Colorado, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon, and Washington have previously adopted voter-initiated laws legalizing the private consumption and/or sale of cannabis by adults. The District of Columbia also permits adults to legally possess and grow personal use quantities of marijuana in private residences.

The Expectations Of The Legal Cannabis Market After Elections

MAINE: In California, Massachusetts, Nevada and Maine, voters decided that recreational cannabis use is now legal. Now as for Arizona, it was the only state that rejected the proposal. Making it four of the five states, where the proposal of legalization of cannabis for recreational use were approved. Companies in this sector profiting from the growing demand, views this as a highly positive development for the legal cannabis industry, as it may bring billions of dollars to the industry and to the states themselves.

District of Columbia, along with other 8 states now recognizes recreational marijuana use as a legal practice for adults. Arkansas, Florida, Montana and North Dakota assed ballot measures legalizing medical marijuana use only.  California is of course the most populated state and the largest market for cannabis. California Lt. Gov. and former San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, said the proposition could generate up to $1 billion a year in tax revenue, as well as $100 million in saved taxpayer money on an annual basis.

Maine Groups Team Up On Ballot Measure To Make Marijuana Legal

MAINE: Two groups that had backed competing ballot initiatives to make recreational use of marijuana legal in Maine agreed on Monday to join forces on one measure to put before voters in 2016.

The state is one of six where competing pro-marijuana groups hope to hold referendums on marijuana legalization in 2016, following 2012 votes that legalized the drug in Colorado and Oregon. Attitudes about marijuana in the United States have changed markedly since then, as voters in Washington, Alaska and the District of Columbia have followed suit. Voters in Ohio will weigh in on legalization next month.

In Maine, the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol said that it would put its organization behind a ballot initiative submitted by Legalize Maine.

Legalize Maine had already collected about 40,000 signatures of voters who support the initiative and would need a total of 61,000 by January to place the measure on a statewide ballot.