Tax and Regulate

Maine: Public hearing on proposed adult-use regulations next week

Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy has released a second draft of their proposed rules regarding the state’s adult-use marijuana regulatory framework. The updated draft can be found here.

On Thursday, May 23, a public hearing will be held in Portland on these rules. This is your opportunity to have your voice heard. Here are the details:

What: Public hearing on adult-use marijuana rules
Where: Holiday Inn by the Bay, 88 Spring Street, Portland, Maine 04101
When: Thursday, May 23 at 8:00 a.m.

If you cannot make it to Portland, public comment will still be accepted until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, June 2. You can submit your online public comment here.

I hope to see you next week and look forward to getting our adult-use program finally up and running.

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Tax and Regulate

Maine: State releases first draft of adult-use marijuana program rules

Yesterday, the Department of Financial Services released the first draft of the rules governing Maine’s adult-use marijuana program. These rules come from the work the Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee did over the last two years.

As required by the Maine Administrative Procedures Act, a final draft will be provided at least 20 days prior to the date of a scheduled public hearing. Following the public hearing, an additional 10-day public comment period will occur. The rules cover cultivation tier sizes, license fees, packaging rules, and much more. You can read the preliminary rules here.

After you have read the rules, the state has set up an online form to collect public feedback. You can find the form here.

We are hopeful that the rules will be approved by the legislature this session, allowing for stores to open as early as late 2019. It’s been a long and winding road, but we are almost there.

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Prohibition

Maine: Ask your lawmakers to seal and erase past marijuana convictions

If you live in Maine, click here to reach out to your lawmakers today.

Aside from implementing Maine's new adult-use marijuana law, there are other marijuana policy bills being heard in Augusta. Four Maine legislators, from both parties, have introduced bills that would help Mainers with past marijuana convictions. You can read more the bills and sponsors here.

Earlier this month, the Portland Press Herald published an editorial in favor of these reforms, saying: "Times change, and laws need to change with them. Maine voted to put the old marijuana laws behind us, and lawmakers should complete the process."

The bills would either seal past convictions or permanently erase them from their records. The language for these bills is not available yet, butgenerally adults who have convictions on their records for crimes that are no longer illegal — home cultivation and personal possession — may apply for their records to be sealed or expunged. Please ask your lawmakers to support this commonsense criminal justice reform.

As an aside, I hope to see you at next week's Cannabis Industry Mixer in Portland on Thursday, February 7. You can see the details and get your free tickets here. See you then!

 

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Tax and Regulate

Join us Feb. 7 for a Maine Cannabis Industry Mixer

Get your free tickets today for Maine's premier canna-networking event!

The Marijuana Policy Project will be hosting another great cannabis industry mixer in Portland. Lots of new and exciting developments are happening in Maine, and this event will be a perfect place to meet other folks in the industry. Here are the details:

What: Cannabis Industry Mixer

When: Thursday, February 7, 2019

Where: Cloudport CoWorking, located at 63 Federal Street, Portland, ME 04101

Why: To network with other Mainers connected to the cannabis industry

Food and drink will be complimentary thanks to our sponsor, Maine Cannabis Chronicle. Maine Cannabis Chronicle is an industry/cultural magazine launching this spring in Maine!

So please, register today for your free tickets, and we will see you in a few weeks!

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Medical Marijuana

Maine: Medical marijuana omnibus bill goes into effect today

LD 1539 improves Maine’s medical marijuana program for patients and industry

Today, the omnibus medical marijuana bill that was passed last spring goes into effect. The bill makes major improvements to Maine’s medical marijuana program. Among some of the changes, the legislation:

  • removes the qualifying condition list so that any Mainer can use medical marijuana so long as their doctor thinks it would be helpful for them;
  • eliminates the requirement that a patient must designate a caregiver or dispensary as their sole provider, allowing for more patient choice;
  • adds two more dispensaries to the existing eight dispensaries and removes the cap on the dispensaries after January 1, 2021; and
  • allows for caregivers to open storefront businesses.

More than two years since Maine voters legalized marijuana for adults, adult-use stores have still not opened, largely due to obstruction from departing Gov. Paul LePage. In the meantime, these changes will help improve and expand medical cannabis access, including by making it more affordable.

As for the adult-use program, the state has recently hired BOTEC, out of Washington State, to help write the rules governing commercial marijuana. A significant amount of “rulemaking” has been done at the committee level, and we hope this work is respected. We hope the new governor, Janet Mills, will work diligently to get Maine’s new program off the ground. Please send her team an email, asking for marijuana legalization to be a year one priority.

Adult-use sales are up and running in all three other states where voters legalized marijuana in 2016 — California, Nevada, and Massachusetts. In Nevada, sales began more than a year ago. Please ask Gov.-elect Mills to move forward promptly, and share this with friends and family in Maine.

 

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Medical Marijuana

Maine Legislature overrides Gov. LePage on medical marijuana reform

Earlier this month, the Maine Legislature overrode Gov. LePage’s vetoes of LD 238 and LD 1539, bills to improve Maine’s medical marijuana program. LD 238 allows for third-party extraction of medical marijuana. LD 1539 is the culmination of the Health and Human Services Committee’s session-long work reforming the medical marijuana program.

The bipartisan omnibus reform bill:

  • removes the qualifying condition list so that any Mainer can use medical marijuana so long as their doctor thinks it would be helpful for them;
  • eliminates the requirement that a patient must designate a caregiver or dispensary as their sole provider, allowing for more patient choice;
  • adds two more dispensaries to the existing eight dispensaries and removes the cap on the dispensaries after January 1, 2021;
  • allows for caregivers to open storefronts, if the town approves; and
  • much more…you can read a summary of the changes here.

These reforms are a win for the patients and the industry, and a hearty “Congratulations!” is in order for everyone that worked hard to make this happen.

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Tax and Regulate

Maine Legislature Passes Commercial Marijuana Regulations

This week, the Maine House and Senate overwhelmingly passed LD 1719, which would set up Maine’s adult-use marijuana market. MPP was neutral on the bill, as it removed social club licensing from the initiative voters passed in 2016. LD 1719 also reduced the number of plants adults can cultivate at home from six to three flowering plants. That said, it’s been 18 months since Maine voters passed Question 1, and it is time that adults had a legal place to purchase marijuana.

Given the veto-proof margins that LD 1719 passed by, we are uncertain if Gov. LePage will veto the bill. If he does, many lawmakers will have to change their votes to sustain his veto. We will keep you posted on what happens next.

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Tax and Regulate

Maine Regulation Bills Progressing

Since the formation of the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation in Maine, a few bills have been progressing steadily.

The first bill is LD 243, which would transfer the authority to oversee adult-use marijuana from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry to the Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations within the Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS). The Bureau would be responsible for licensing adult-use marijuana businesses, in addition to creating and enforcing regulations. LD 243 also allocates $200,000 to the Joint Select Committee on Marijuana Legalization Implementation and $1.4 million to DAFS to implement Question 1. The bill is now sitting on the Appropriations table. Once appropriated, it will go to the governor’s desk for his signature.

The second bill they have been working on is LR 2391, which would create a framework for retail marijuana testing facilities. By setting up testing facilities first, Maine would hopefully avoid regulatory bottlenecks experienced in other states. Mandated marijuana testing means that enough laboratories are needed to test all the marijuana that will be sold in Maine. LR 2391 is on track to be passed before the Legislature adjourns today.

The Joint Select Committee will continue to meet in the summer and fall, after the Legislature adjourns. We will be working closely with the committee to make sure Maine’s adult-use marijuana program is set up swiftly and responsibly.

To receive updates directly from the committee, please sign up here.

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Tax and Regulate

Maine Legalization Takes Effect

A voter-approved initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine officially took effect Monday, making it legal for adults 21 and older to possess and grow limited amounts of marijuana.

Under Question 1, which voters approved in November and Gov. Paul LePage certified on December 31, adults 21 years of age and older can legally possess up to two and a half ounces of marijuana, grow up to six flowering marijuana plants and 12 non-flowering plants, and possess the marijuana harvested from those plants inside their residence. It will remain illegal to use marijuana in public and to drive while impaired by marijuana. The law will not affect employers’ drug-testing policies or their rights to prohibit marijuana use by employees.

The legislature is in the process of establishing a regulated system of marijuana cultivation and sales, which is currently scheduled to be up and running by February 1, 2018.

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Tax and Regulate

Maine Governor Signs Question 1, Making Marijuana Legal for Adults on January 30

After recounting 30% of the votes for Question 1 in Maine last month, opponents of marijuana policy reform dropped their challenge, allowing the initiative to regulate marijuana like alcohol move to the Governor's desk. On New Year's Eve, Gov. LePage signed Question 1 into law.

Portland Press Herald reports:

LePage confirmed the proclamation Tuesday on a talk show on WVOM radio in Bangor. But he also called on the Legislature to place a moratorium on the sale of marijuana until lawmakers could work out all the details, including providing funding to set up a regulatory framework for legal marijuana.

Under the new law, adults over age 21 will be allowed to possess up to 2.5 ounces of marijuana or grow up to six plants. The law goes into effect on Jan. 30, which is 30 days after LePage issued the proclamation on Saturday.

Commercial sale of the drug would be regulated by the Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry.

Ballot question opponents had requested a recount of the measure, which was approved by a 4,000-vote margin but the recount by the Secretary of State’s Office was ended in December after it appeared there would be no significant change in the results.

LePage said Tuesday he needs the Legislature to provide funding to the agriculture department in order for him to move forward with establishing an agency to regulate the sale of marijuana in Maine.

Advocates are urging the legislature to begin implementation immediately and not consider a moratorium until after they have had a chance to establish regulations.

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