The new medical marijuana rule issued by Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy (“OMP”) will implement changes to the medical marijuana statute that went into effect in 2018. While the contents of the preliminary draft rule that was published today may have surprised some, the changes to the statute were significant and the medical marijuana regulations required a complete overhaul and rewrite as a result. Many provisions in the rule clarify requirements or authorizations that exist in the statute by providing more detail and/or describing the processes for complying with what is already outlined in the statute. The substantive legal requirements are not new, however. These requirements have been in place since 2018 and will be fully implemented/enforced starting this year.
OMP issued the following press release this afternoon with details about the new rule and the process for providing public comment:
Regulators Update Medical Marijuana Rules
Revised framework ensures consistency with state law, launches rulemaking.
AUGUSTA – The Office of Marijuana Policy today released preliminary draft rules meant to bring the state’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program regulations into congruence with state law. Administrative rulemaking is a standard process within government and, in this case, necessitated due to significant changes that have been made to state law since rules were last revised in February 2018, pre-dating the creation of OMP.
In addition to being thematically reorganized to better reflect the structure of Maine’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program, one of the most notable changes included in the draft is the introduction of a process by which medical marijuana establishments are regulated at the local level prior to state review, as is currently mandated by law. Additionally, the draft rules include provisions for inventory tracking to enhance accountability and transparency and delineate packaging and labeling requirements that prioritize patient protections.
“Along with being more user-friendly, these draft rules are meant to address changes to state law over the last two years. This draft framework will further ensure our regulatory priorities of safety, accountability, and transparency,” said OMP Director Erik Gundersen. “As relationships with local communities, industry, and other stakeholders are at the heart of all we do, we look forward to connecting with the public throughout the rulemaking process.”
Current plans call for OMP to engage in both an informal and formal public comment period as it considers and develops revisions to the revamped medical rule. This approach is modeled after OMP’s development of the adult use program’s rules, an experience which allowed the Office to receive critical feedback and, ultimately, propose a better rule when beginning the formal rulemaking process defined by the Maine Administrative Procedures Act.
A copy of the preliminary draft rules is currently available for review on the OMP website: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/medical-use/rules-statutes/rulemaking/draft-rules. Parties interested in providing feedback in response to the preliminary draft rules may do so through the following page: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/medical-use/rules-statutes/rulemaking/feedback.
In line with the state’s standard rulemaking process, the preliminary draft will transition into a proposed rule over the coming weeks, and OMP will begin the public hearing and public comment phase required by statute. A final draft of the proposed rule will be provided at least 20 days prior to the date of a scheduled public hearing. Following the public hearing, at least 10 days of written public comment will be allowed.
Once the public comment period concludes, OMP will review and consider all feedback received, make any appropriate revisions to the proposed rule, and complete final adoption.
If you have any questions about the preliminary draft rule and next steps in the process of adopting the rule, please reach out to a member of our Licensing and Regulatory Compliance division.