Maine Regulators Issue First Active Adult-Use Cannabis Licenses

Maine is preparing for the launch of its long-awaited adult-use cannabis market with the issuance of the state’s first active licenses for cultivation, testing, and retail sales.

Possession of adult-use cannabis and home cultivation have been legal under the 2016 Marijuana Legalization Act (MLA) since early 2017, but the lack of an approved licensing and regulation system has delayed retail sales.

In 2019, Maine Governor Janet Mills signed LD 719, which made changes to the MLA and approved provisionally-adopted operating rules for adult-use cannabis.

Maine made adult-use applications available in December of 2019 and issued the first conditional licenses on March 13, 2020.

Maine placed an indefinite hold on the launch of its retail market in April of 2020 due to complications of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Now, Maine’s adult-use cannabis program has finally taken the long-awaited next step forward as the Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) on Tuesday announced the issuance of licenses for three cannabis cultivation facilities, one testing facility, and two retail outlets.

OMP Director Erik Gundersen says that Maine will have the unique distinction of being the only state to have launched an adult-use cannabis program during a pandemic, noting that public health and safety have been part of the Office’s mission statement from the beginning and that the well-being of the new industry remains the highest priority.

“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,” says 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.”

To help provide guidance for COVID-19, OMP has also released a prevention checklist for adult-use licensees, detailing in-store health and safety procedures and requirements for employees and customers.

Dr. Nirav Shad, director at the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention, stresses that the MLA only allows for adults over the age of 21 to purchase and use recreational cannabis products and that those who choose to use them should take precautions to ensure that younger people cannot access them.

Dr. Shad also encourages parents and guardians to talk to their children about cannabis.

Retail sales of recreational cannabis products, which cannot take place at medical cannabis outlets in Maine, are permitted to commence at licensed adult-use shops on Friday, October 9, 2020.