Maine State House at sunset. Augusta, Maine.

Maine Medical Marijuana Businesses Deemed “Essential” In Light of Pandemic

March 25th, 2020, Business & Corporate, Cannabis Law, Cultivation, Medical, Public Policy, Regulatory, Retail, State

Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy issued a memorandum today explaining that medical marijuana businesses are deemed “essential” and may continue operating despite the spread of COVID-19.  However, OMP urges medical marijuana businesses to take all necessary precautions to ensure proper sanitization and social distancing in their facilities.  The memo, which can be found here, provides a baseline for increasing precautionary measures and also provides links to other state and federal guidance documents for review.  While Governor Mills has not issued a shelter in place order, the Governor issued an Executive Order directing all non-essential public-facing businesses to close for 14 days starting Wednesday, March 25th.

Other states with medical marijuana programs that recently issued more robust shelter in place orders also determined that medical marijuana businesses provide essential services, similar to pharmacies and grocery stores, and permitted them to continue operations despite the mandated shut down of non-essential businesses.  When Governor Charlie Baker of Massachusetts announced that all nonessential businesses must close on Tuesday, March 24, he specifically allowed medical marijuana dispensaries to stay open, but not recreational marijuana stores.

The New York Times published an article today outlining these trends. In most cases, all marijuana businesses must, like restaurants, limit themselves to taking orders for delivery or curbside pickup.  Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy has also indicated that curbside pickup is acceptable given the circumstances, so long as employees check patient IDs and medical marijuana certifications prior to completing the transaction.

Across the United States, cannabis businesses are being careful to adhere to standards defined by the federal government to ensure they can remain open. 

Please reach out to a member of Drummond Woodsum’s regulated substances practice group if you have questions about OMP’s memorandum or the steps you should be taking to protect your business and customers.