Update on Marijuana Progress at the Maine Legislature

Thursday, June 15, 2017

As of early June 2017, Maine’s implementation of the legalization of marijuana for adult use continues to chug along. The Maine Legislature’s Joint-Select Marijuana Legalization Implementation Committee has been meeting several times per week now for months, poring over the initiated Marijuana Legalization Act and each potential facet of the forthcoming structure it has called for.

After the MLA’s passage last November, the incoming 128th Maine Legislature submitted more than 70 marijuana-related bills pertinent to all areas of legalization and the state’s existing medical marijuana program. More than 30 of these bills have been carried over for the MLI Committee’s work later this summer, fall, and next session. However, the Committee also has the power to report out its own legislation, which it has already done, passing LD 243 (assigning licensing authority to DAFS) and a recently passed bill to mandate laboratory testing of marijuana and marijuana products and set up a licensure program for these laboratories. Both of these bills have yet to be signed by the governor and enacted into law.

In the meantime, the Committee has been engaged in in-depth discussion around everything from what cultivation, retail, enforcement, and implementation timing will look like. Amid these proceedings, the Legislature will be eager to make use of any potential revenue collected from the taxation of marijuana. Following adjournment of the First Regular Session, the Committee’s plan is to meet in July and August and report out an omnibus bill, establishing an adult use program, to a Special Session of the Legislature in the fall.

While the Legislature has been working on implementation of the Adult Use Program, the Department of Health and Human Services has been undergoing a rewrite of rules for the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program (MMUMP). Through this rewrite, DHHS is seeking to provide patients, caregivers, dispensaries, municipalities, and Maine citizens more clarity and guidance in the MMUMP. Participants in the MMUMP and municipalities, especially, have been seeking this guidance for quite some time, as the rules have not been amended since 2013, despite numerous statutory changes.

On June 14, DHHS held a public hearing at the Augusta Civic Center to take public comment on these rules. Fewer than 50 folks, mostly caregivers, testified at the public hearing. Most of their comments were in support of the program and in opposition to DHHS’s efforts to bring greater clarity and effective enforcement to the program. The deadline to provide written comments to DHHS is June 26.

Here is a link to further information on the rules and the rulemaking process: