Maine Goes Mainstream With Adult Use Cannabis

Evolution To Recreational Cannabis:

Maine finally launches its adult use program four years after voters approved recreational use, retail sales and taxation of marijuana in November of 2016. A legislative committee met to amend the Marijuana Legalization Act (“MLA”) passed by voters and after rewrites and two vetoes, An Act to Implement a Regulatory Structure for Adult Use Marijuana became law in May 2018. In 2019 the Office of Marijuana Policy (“OMP”) was formed and the State worked to develop the rules required by the MLA. In April 2019, a first draft of Maine’s adult use rules went through a public review and comment period. In May 2019, the OMP proposed formal rules and in June of 2019 submitted provisionally adopted rules to the legislature.  Governor Janet Mills signed LD 719- An Act to Amend the Adult Use Marijuana Law on June 27, 2019. LD 719 made changes and authorized OMP to proceed with final adoption of adult use rules. Now the OMP is engaged in the long-awaited licensing process. In an exciting first for the state, the first active adult use establishment licenses, including cultivation licenses, were issued September 8, 2020. Dispensaries, while recipients of active licenses, must not conduct sales until the state’s retail sales launch date of October 9th. Adult use cultivators may initiate plant transfers from Maine’s existing medical program and can harvest immediately.

Applicable Law:

Maine’s adult use cannabis program is largely governed by the following statutes and rules: 

Statutes: Applicable statutes can be found in the Maine Revised Statutes, Title 28-B (Adult Use of Marijuana); Title 36 (Taxation); and Title 17-A (Maine Criminal Code). See https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/adult-use/rules-statutes

Rules: Applicable rules can be found in the Code of Maine Rules in 18-691 C.M.R. ch. 1 (Adult Use Marijuana Program); 18-691 C.M.R. ch. 3 (Imposition of Excise Taxes on Sales, Purchases and Transfers of Adult Use Marijuana); and 18-691 C.M.R. ch. 5 (Rules for the Certification of Marijuana Testing Facilities).

Application Resources for Maine’s Adult Use Cannabis Establishments:

Application and form information can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/adult-use/applications-forms

Application process information can be found here: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/adult-use/application-process

Application Process Overview For Maine Cannabis Business Licenses:

Conditional Licensure:

Like many other jurisdictions, one of the first steps will be to submit to a criminal history records check as part of the Conditional Licensure step, which is step one of the licensing processes. This involves fingerprinting of applicants, including, if the applicant is a business entity, each officer, director, manager and general partner. Each employee and applicant is also required to obtain an OMP Identification Card in this step. Then form applications for conditional licensure and related fees can be completed and submitted. Once the OMP determines these submissions are complete, within 90 days, it will either deny the conditional licensure or issue a non-renewable conditional license for one year. 

Local Authorization

The next step, step two of the process, for eligibility is obtaining local authorization. For a conditional license holder to be eligible for an active license (which is step three of the process), they must obtain local authorization. If all steps are satisfied in this part of the process, the local authorization may be approved by the community and an approved local authorization form will be sent directly to the OMP. 

Active Licensure

The third step- to get to active licensure- involves a supplemental information process, including providing evidence of compliance with electrical and permitting requirements; tax information and documents; any changes to original application; and updated plans on record. If all requirements are met, the OMP will charge the applicant for the licensing fee and, upon receipt of payment, will issue an active license valid for a one year period. For further information regarding Maine cannabis business license applications, please contact Hilary St. Jean at Rogoway Law Group.

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