June 26, 2019
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Maine lawmakers will get another shot at recreational marijuana rules

Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
A strain of cannabis called LA Chocolat sits in a sample jar at the Wellness Connection in Portland on May 23. The jar allows customers to sniff the buds before buying.

The state’s Office of Marijuana Policy said Wednesday that it has provisionally adopted rules for recreational marijuana sales and oversight, and that the rules are now up for review by the Legislature.

The move comes almost three years after Maine voted to allow adults to use marijuana for recreational purposes and just days after final public comments on the rules closed June 2.

The rules were rewritten two times by the Maine Legislature and vetoed two times by former Gov. Paul LePage.

The state got back on track with efforts to create a framework for the recreational marijuana market in May 2018, after lawmakers overrode LePage’s veto.

The milestone in moving the rules ahead to the Legislature also comes four months after Gov. Janet Mills’ administration established the OMP.

The Legislature will now take up the rulemaking process.

“Provisionally adopting rules to regulate Maine’s voter-approved recreational marijuana program is one of the most significant accomplishments, to date, of the Office of Marijuana Policy,” OMP Director Erik Gundersen said in a statement.

Immediate next steps include review by the Legislature’s Office of Policy and Legal Analysis, Legislative Council acceptance of the late-filed rules and the drafting of a resolve by the Revisor of Statutes that would permit the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, which oversees the OMP, to proceed with rulemaking.

The resolve would be referred to a legislative committee. The committee could then review the rules and would have to conduct a public hearing.

Members of the committee have three options when considering the provisionally adopted rules: accept the rules, reject the rules or accept the rules with modifications requested.

Once the committee of jurisdiction completes its work, the resolve continues through the normal legislative process.

Assuming the resolve becomes law, it would become effective 90 days after the adjournment of the first regular session of the Legislature.

DAFS and OMP then have 60 days before they must finally adopt the rule.

OMP must begin accepting adult-use business applications within 30 days of final adoption.

Gundersen said the provisionally adopted rules are the result of collaboration between the state, its rulemaking consultants, the public and others who participated in the public comment process.

He said public feedback led to simplifying the residency requirements contained in the proposed rules to reflect legislative direction and clarify the burden of proof regarding majority ownership.

OMP also scaled back packaging requirements for marijuana products due to added costs to future licensees and environmental concerns raised by the public.

Also, testing facilities may now be located adjacent to other marijuana establishments, provided they have separate entrances accessible from public rights of way.

OMP’s rulemaking filing occurs 13 days after their public hearing on proposed rules to govern the program. The 10-day public comment period concluded at 5 p.m. Sunday, June 2.

 



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