Complying with cannabis regulations means you must stay current with any changes. We all know that the regulated cannabis marketplace is a work in progress across the nation, so to help you keep up we’ll post summary updates with links so you may dive deeper.
Maine’s cannabis regulations fall into two distinct camps; one for medical cannabis and one for adult-use. Medical cannabis grown at home for personal use has been legal in Maine since 1999. Voters approved an update in 2009 which permitted non-profit dispensaries to open throughout the state, but most remain in the coastal areas.
In November 2016, voters approved The Marijuana Legalization Act permitting adult-use, commercial cannabis sales. However, when it comes to cannabis, things apparently move slowly in the frigid, northern state. It wasn’t until 2018 that legislators approved a bill to actually implement and update the Act, and they had to override the Governor’s veto to do so. The Act established the framework for licensing adult-use retail dispensaries, cultivation, testing labs, and supply chains. Retail sales were expected to begin in the Spring of 2020. And then, the COVID-19 forced everyone to change their plans.
The state began issuing its first “conditional licenses” in early March with adult-use stores initially expecting to open in the Spring of 2020. However, on March 24, 2020, Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy issued a memorandum regarding the coronavirus emergency. Like many states, medical dispensaries were allowed to stay open as they were deemed “essential businesses.” However, they must comply with social distancing and implement other health-related precautions. Unfortunately, the permitting process to open retail dispensaries has slowed considerably. Erik Gundersen, the Director of Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy, sent a letter to Maine’s cannabis community stating that “It now appears as though a spring launch of Maine’s adult-use industry is simply unrealistic.” Now, even a June opening is most likely delayed. Only time will tell when retail dispensaries may be open for business as the decision is in the hands of Maine’s public health experts. We’ll update Maine’s status and progress as the Summer progresses.
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