As explained in a previous post, Maine has designated medical marijuana caregivers and dispensaries as businesses that provide essential services and are allowed to remain open while the COVID-19 emergency continues.
Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy (“OMP”) issued guidelines/recommendations last week to help medical marijuana program registrants protect their employees and members of the public. A number of measures are now mandatory as a result of new executive orders coming out of the Governor’s office. Any medical marijuana businesses that violate these restrictions may be forced to close and/or will be subject to other enforcement measures.
The full text of OMP’s press release, which includes the new requirements, is copied below. If you have questions about the Governor’s recent executive orders and declarations, please reach out to a member of Drummond Woodsum’s regulatory division.
Yesterday, Governor Janet T. Mills issued a series of substantial new mandates to protect public health and safety in the face of COVID-19, including a Stay Healthy at Home directive that requires people living in Maine to stay at home at all times unless for an essential job or an essential personal reason, such as obtaining food, medicine, health care, or other necessary purposes.
The Governor also placed new restrictions on essential businesses and operations that remain open, limiting the number of customers in their buildings at any one time, implementing curb-side pickup and delivery options as much as possible, and enforcing U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention-recommended physical distancing requirements for their customers and employees in and around their facilities.
Restricting Number of People in Essential Stores
Under the Executive Order, essential stores with retail spaces of:
- Less than 7,500 square feet must limit the number of customers in the store at one time to 5.
- More than 7,500 and less than 25,000 square feet must limit the number of customers in the store at one time to 15.
If applicable, additional tiers of square footage and customer limitations appear in the press release and executive order.
Retailers must enforce these limits and a six-foot separation between any customers waiting in lines, including those waiting in lines outside of a store.
Additional Obligations of Essential Stores
In addition, to reduce the risk of community spread, essential stores shall:
- Implement and actively enforce social distancing requirements in and around their facilities.
- Prominently post signage at all public entrances instructing customers to remain six feet away from other people inside and outside the store.
- Mark every customer line with signage and floor lines designed to impose social distancing.
- Disinfect the handles of every used cart and basket prior to customer reuse.
- Take all reasonable steps to minimize customer handling of unpurchased merchandise.
- Offer separate operating hours for persons over the age of 60 and customers with medical conditions to be the only customers in the store.
The Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) had previously recommended that Maine Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP) registrants consider several of these steps. They are mandatory as of 12:01 a.m. on April 2, 2020, the effective date of the Executive Order. The Order will remain in effect until at least April 30, 2020.
Any essential business which violates the Executive Order will be subject to further on-site restrictions or closure until those violations are addressed. These new requirements adjust and mandate prior recommendations from the Governor regarding essential businesses and operations.