Maine State House at sunset. Augusta, Maine.

Maine Cannabis Legislative Updates

July 2nd, 2021, Medical, Public Policy, Regulatory, Retail, State

Updated 7/21/2021

This post provides an overview of marijuana-related bills that passed in the Maine State Legislature during the First Special Session of the 130th Legislature. The effective date of all non-emergency legislation passed this session is October 18, 2021.

LD605, “An Act To Amend the Marijuana Legalization Act” was enacted as an emergency law and therefore is in effect as of June 16, 2021. The bill removed the time restraint on adult use marijuana establishment licensees to be able to engage in self-sampling. Originally, the authorization for licensees to collect their own samples (rather than utilizing a licensed sample collector or testing facility to collect samples for mandatory testing) was going to repeal on October 1, 2021, but that is no longer the case. The bill also amended the definitions of “marijuana trim” and “mother plant,” expanded the permitted uses of the Adult Use Marijuana Public Health and Safety Fund, and exempted sample collector licensees from the requirement to register with the State Tax Assessor to collect and remit sales tax. A copy of the chaptered law can be found here.

LD881, “An Act To Make Technical Changes to the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act” was also enacted as an emergency law and is in effect as of June 17, 2021. The bill aligned the definition of “seedling” in the medical and adult use programs to be less than 24 inches in height and width. It created a fix for the calculation of canopy fees when registering as a caregiver or renewing a caregiver registration. Rather than calculating based on plant count within the 500 square feet canopy limit, OMP will be able to establish a flat fee of not less than $500 and not more than $1,500.  A copy of the chaptered law can be found here.

LD871, “An Act To Clarify Certain Provisions Regarding the Marijuana Excise Tax” was signed by Governor Mills on June 22, 2021. This is an emergency law that went into effect immediately. An important change is that as of July 1, 2021, an adult use cultivation facility will pay a flat $35 per mature marijuana plant sold to other licensees in the state instead of calculating that particular excise tax as $335 per pound or fraction thereof. The latter calculation still applies to marijuana flower. The bill is also technical fix to the calculation of the marijuana excise tax on wet/fresh frozen marijuana. OMP passed an emergency rule to adjust this calculation in 2020, but it was important to get the change enacted in the tax statute as well. The text of the chaptered law is here.

LD1434, “An Act Regarding Controlled Entry Areas within Retail Marijuana Stores” was signed by Governor Mills on June 21, 2021. This bill legalizes the use of “man traps” to control access into adult use marijuana stores, whereas licensees are currently required to check identification prior to entering the building where the store is located. Under this legislation, a marijuana store may have a controlled, indoor entry area directly inside the marijuana store in which an employee of the marijuana store licensee may verify the identification and age of persons and persons may await entry into the sales area of the marijuana store. The controlled, indoor entry area must be physically separated from the sales area of the marijuana store. We spoke with leadership at OMP and they confirmed that licensees can submit applications to update plans of record with a new process for checking IDs in advance of that date, but they will not be approved until this change legally goes into effect. This is not an emergency law so it will go into effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session. The text of the chaptered law is here.

LD882 passed as a legislative resolve (which does not amend any existing statute) directing OMP to have meetings with stakeholders within the State’s medical marijuana industry to study, review and evaluate any changes or updates that may be necessary to the State’s medical use of marijuana program under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act. The text of the resolve is here.

LD939, “An Act To Support Maine’s Medical Marijuana Program and Ensure Patient Access” became law without the Governor’s action on June 26, 2021. The bill allows registered caregivers to hire assistants who are 18 years of age or older and under 21 years of age if they are also a member of the family of the caregiver to assist in performing the duties of the caregiver (otherwise assistants must still be over the age of 21). The bill also allows for unlimited wholesale of marijuana plants and harvested marijuana/manufactured marijuana products. It allows registered caregivers to accept a digital image of a written certification for the purposes of initiating a transaction for harvested marijuana, but the caregiver must verify the written certification in person before transferring any harvested marijuana to the qualifying patient. The annual audit requirement for medical marijuana businesses is removed from the statute and criminal history record checks will be valid for one year from the date it was conducted, regardless of the registrant’s employment status. The recordkeeping requirement for registrants is reduced to 4 years (previously records had to be maintained for 7 years). This is not an emergency law so it will go into effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session. The text of the chaptered law can be found here.

LD1589, “An Act To Ensure Equity in the Membership of the Marijuana Advisory Commission” became law without the Governor’s signature on June 24, 2021. It changes the membership of the Marijuana Advisory Commission by removing the Commissioner of Labor, adding the Commissioner of Economic and Community Development and adding 6 members to be appointed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House, increasing the number of members from 15 to 21. The new members will be: (1) a member of the public with demonstrated expertise in the cultivation of marijuana or the manufacturing of marijuana concentrate and marijuana products; (2) a representative of a statewide association representing defense attorneys; (3) a representative of a statewide civil rights organization with a primary mission to advance racial equity and racial justice; (4) a qualifying patient; (5) a member of a federally recognized Indian tribe in the State; and (6) a representative of the state chapter of a national civil liberties organization. This is not an emergency law so it will go into effect 90 days after the end of the legislative session. The text of the chaptered law can be found here.

LD1242, “An Act To Amend the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act” became law without the Governor’s signature on July 1, 2021. It was passed as an emergency law and went into effect immediately. This new law prohibits the pending medical marijuana rules from going into effect and makes medical marijuana rulemaking major substantive (any changes to the rules will now require review and approval by the legislature). This means that there will be no changes to the medical marijuana rules until at least spring of 2022, although we expect a significant lobbying effort by caregivers to further delay any new rules. This bill also prohibits the Office of Marijuana Policy from adopting provisional rules for consideration by the legislature, including rules required to implement Metrc track and trace in the medical market in Maine until they conduct a study demonstrating the economic impact of Metrc on caregiver and patient access;  develop a process for industry participant involvement in rulemaking; and develop a process for hiring consultants to assist with rulemaking.  OMP is required to present the findings of the study and the processes to the VLA committee no later than January 15, 2022. The full text of the chaptered law can be found here.

If you have questions about the impact of any of this legislation, please reach out to a member of our Licensing and Regulatory Compliance division.