More than two years after residents voted to legalize recreational marijuana, Maine released draft rules Monday that detail how the state’s new adult-use market would be launched, monitored and regulated by the Office of Marijuana Policy.
The state released the rules in response to a Freedom of Access request by the Portland Press Herald.
The regulations, which were developed by the consulting firm of Freedman & Koski of Colorado, will not be implemented until they are presented at a public hearing and win approval from the Legislature. Other rules on testing labs and protocols will be adopted later, without legislative approval.
The state is also inviting the public to weigh in on its draft rules, which run 73 pages long, at its website.
“There has been significant public interest in the adult use rules being developed in Maine, which is why we invite the public to review these rules and offer their feedback,” Erik Gundersen, director of the state’s Office of Marijuana Policy, said Monday.
Voters approved legalization of recreational marijuana in November 2016. While limited home grow was allowed within two months, the state has struggled to launch a commercial market, having to overcome a series of legislative rewrites, gubernatorial vetoes and contractual snafus.
National marijuana consultants estimate that Maine’s market, once launched, could reach $265 million a year and employ as many as 5,400 people. Gundersen says Maine will begin accepting recreational marijuana business license applications this year, providing the draft rules are passed before lawmakers go on summer break.
The regulations lay out how would-be growers, retailers and manufacturers will obtain the state licenses needed to operate in the Maine recreational marijuana market: First, get a state conditional license, then the city or town’s approval and finally, the state will grant a one-year active marijuana license.
The state will have 90 days to review the initial application, including the criminal history records of applicants, before issuing a conditional license. The biggest hurdle facing the applicant probably will not be the state, however, but the local license conditions set by each individual host municipality.
Some communities, like South Portland, already have their adult-use license regulations in place, while others have been waiting for the state to issue its licensing regulations before deciding whether they will move ahead with adult-use marijuana within their borders. Communities that do nothing will remain marijuana free.
All applicants, including officers, directors, managers and general partners of a business entity, must be at least 21 years of age and reside in Maine, and a majority of shares, equity ownership, and membership or partnership interests must be owned by Mainers or businesses made up entirely of state residents.
The draft rules prohibit the creation of a corporate veil to side-step this rule through purchase options.