The issuance of active licenses continues Maine’s structured rollout of its new adult use industry and moves Maine closer to the start of retail sales to the public. Starting on Friday, October 9, active retail license holders will be permitted to engage in sales to consumers 21 years of age or older.
OMP will continue to accept and process adult use applications and intends to issue future active licenses on a rolling basis, increasing the number of establishments authorized to conduct retail sales next month.
“Maine will have the unique distinction of being the only state to launch its adult use marijuana program during a pandemic,” said OMP Director Erik Gundersen. “Public health and safety are themes that have been part of the Office of Marijuana Policy’s mission statement since day one. Accordingly, our highest priority remains the wellbeing of this new industry’s employees and consumers.”
The newly-licensed entities represent the very first establishments in Maine’s burgeoning adult use marijuana industry that may come into possession of and begin processing adult use marijuana and marijuana products. Marijuana stores, while recipients of active licenses, must refrain from conducting retail sales until the state’s retail sales launch date of October 9. Adult use cultivators may initiate plant transfers from Maine’s existing medical program and harvesting marijuana immediately.
Over the course of the next month, licensees will cultivate and process marijuana, ensure those items satisfy the mandatory testing requirements of rule and law, and move product through the supply chain. If they have not already, businesses that will conduct retail sales will begin implementing policies and procedures to support social distancing and other public health guidance. Last month, OMP collaborated with the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development and the Maine Department of Health and Human Services’ Center for Disease Control and Prevention to develop a COVID-19 checklist for adult use licensees.
“While the current health pandemic delayed our efforts and will likely contribute to a less robust introduction to the market than expected, today’s action is a start to the realization of the will of Maine voters to provide adults 21 years of age and older with a lawful mechanism to obtain marijuana,” added Gundersen. “The initial market will likely be limited in both accessibility and product availability, but the industry will evolve responsibly and provide safe, convenient access to adult use marijuana over the coming weeks and months.”
Information on the entities receiving their active licenses may be found on the OMP website at https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/open-data/adult-use. Information on the laws of Maine related to the possession and use of adult use marijuana is available through the Maine CDC’s Good to Know Maine website: https://www.goodtoknowmaine.com/.
“It is important to remember the law allows for adult use only, and adults who choose to use these products should take precautions to ensure that younger people do not have access to them,” said Dr. Nirav D. Shah, director of the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “People younger than 21 are prohibited from purchasing and using the products as their brains are still developing and marijuana can negatively affect this development. Maine CDC encourages parents and guardians to talk to their children about these risks.”
In addition to the laws related to personal use, possession, and consumption of marijuana, it is important to note that recreational consumers will only be able to purchase from licensed adult use establishments. Unless transitioned to the adult use program, existing medical marijuana caregiver storefronts may only sell marijuana and marijuana products to certified patients. Maine law prohibits the sale of medical and non-medical marijuana from the same establishment.
Since the inauguration of Governor Janet Mills in January 2019 and the corresponding establishment of OMP in February 2019, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services has been working to honor the will of Maine voters by implementing the licensing and regulatory framework required by the Marijuana Legalization Act.
The State of Maine first made adult use applications available on December 5, 2019; the first conditional licenses were issued on March 13, 2020. OMP was on pace for a spring 2020 launch of adult use before the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the postponement of these plans.
OMP is responsible for the oversight of all aspects of legalized marijuana, including Maine’s existing Medical Use of Marijuana Program.