May 19, 2019
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Maine’s effort to track legal pot suffers another setback

Marina Riker | AP
Marina Riker | AP
Maine once again is looking for a company to track the legal marijuana industry.

Only two weeks after it signed a $150,000, three-year contract for a marijuana track-and-trace service using a system called Metrc, state agencies have withdrawn the contract and issued another, broader request for proposals.

The Office of Marijuana Policy, a part of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, said Friday that it is once again looking for bidders to provide a seed-to-sale tracking system for the adult-use marijuana and the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana programs.

On Jan. 23 the department pulled out of a deal with BOTEC Analysis of California to draft rules for adult-use marijuana. BOTEC is still deciding if it will appeal that ruling.

The department recently issued a $189,000 conditional contract award for rulemaking consulting services to Freedman & Koski of Colorado. Once a contract is negotiated and signed, the department will be able to begin the rulemaking process required by the Marijuana Legalization Act.

The department said on Feb. 19 that it had entered into a three-year contract with Franwell Inc. for marijuana seed-to-sale oversight using a tracking system called Metrc. The cloud-based software can track marijuana growth and distribution throughout Maine. Metrc uses radio-frequency identification tags.

That system would have been used in Maine’s medical program, with plans for amending that agreement later date to expand Metrc to adult-use recreational marijuana.

Maine’s adult-use marijuana industry is expected to be much larger than the current medical marijuana program, which consists of eight dispensaries and approximately 2,500 caregivers.

Lawyers in the attorney general’s office encouraged the Office of Marijuana Policy to conduct a request for proposals for adult-use tracking services rather than risk time-consuming and costly litigation by amending the existing agreement with Franwell to include Maine’s adult-use program.

The department and the Office of Marijuana policy said the new procurement will not affect the implementation timeline for the adult-use recreational program.

“Our timeline for implementing adult-use rules remains unchanged, and the work of the Office of Marijuana Policy continues unabated,”

Office of Marijuana Planning Director Erik Gundersen said.

With the contract withdrawn, the Metrc track and trace introductory event scheduled for April 11, 2019, in Augusta is canceled.

In November 2016, Maine voters approved the recreational use, retail sale and taxation of marijuana. In January 2017, the Legislature placed a moratorium on certain parts of the law regarding retail sales and taxation, until February 2018, while a 17-member legislative committee worked to overhaul the Marijuana Legalization Act.

The legislative language developed by that committee established a rough regulatory framework for adult cannabis use, which won passage over former Gov. Paul LePage’s veto in May 2018.



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