On November 8, 2016, Maine became the eighth state in the U.S. to legalize adult-use cannabis when voters approved Question 1, the Marijuana Legalization Act (MLA).
But while home cultivation and the possession of up to 2.5 ounces has been legal since early 2017 under the MLA, recreational sales have not commenced due to the lack of an approved system for licensing and regulation.
On January 27, 2017, the state legislature put a moratorium on the implementation of certain portions of the law regarding retail sales and taxes until issues could be resolved and rules could be promulgated.
But recreational cannabis in Maine took a step forward last week as Governor Janet Mills [D] signed legislation on Thursday, LD 719, which makes changes to the Marijuana Legalization Act and approves provisionally-adopted rules.
“Over the course of the last several months, my Administration has worked quickly to implement the law regarding Maine’s adult-use recreational marijuana market as Maine voters asked the state to do two and a half years ago,” said Governor Mills. “The rule development demonstrates what can be accomplished when state government works with lawmakers, industry stakeholders, and the public to accomplish a shared goal.”
“With this law, we are one step closer to honoring the will of Maine voters,” she said.
Director of the Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP), Erik Gundersen, says that the OMP has been able to meet every one of its timelines in its mission to license and regulate cannabis businesses since its inception in February.
The new law will take effect 90 days after the adjournment of the state legislature, at which time the OMP will have 60 days to adopt the adult-use rules fully.
The office will begin accepting adult-use business applications within 30 days of final adoption of the rules.
The OMP will be taking the next several months to build a cannabis track-and-trace system, adult-use licensing system, and a public health and safety education campaign.
The OMP anticipates being able to start accepting licenses by the end of 2019.