Erik Gundersen, Director of Maine’s Office of Cannabis Policy

Maine’s Office of Cannabis Policy is starting a state-wide listening tour as it begins its rule-making process following the end of the state’s legislative session, which saw new laws legalizing affecting the cannabis market, including the legalization of adult use delivery and new guidelines for how the medical market should be regulated.

“Maine’s adult-use cannabis industry continues to be one of the fastest growing segments of the state’s economy,” said OCP Director Erik Gundersen, in a released statement. “The growth of the industry shows consumer demand for cannabis and cannabis products. My team is eager to engage directly with stakeholders and use this opportunity to hear success stories and challenges, and ultimately create better policy for improved public health and safety as the programs continue to expand.”

Specifically, OCP will be soliciting input about adult use delivery, curbside pickups and a possible change to the state’s cannabis lab testing requirements.

The first public meeting will be held on Wednesday, June 22 in Biddeford at the University of New England’s Alfond Center for Health Sciences. Subsequent meetings will take place in Waterville on July 20, Bangor on August 24, Ellsworth on September 14 and Presque Isle on October 12. All of the meetings are scheduled to start at 6 p.m. and are expected to last about 90 minutes.

“Engagement with stakeholders is a keystone of OCP’s activity in 2022,” said Gundersen. “We hope to hear from a wide variety of people with differing opinions and questions, so that we can serve as the best possible go-to on all things cannabis in Maine”

The OCP called for written comments in the last two weeks in May, but that was only a preliminary, informal start to the process, according to OCP spokesperson Matt Grondin.

The upcoming series of public meetings is intended to formally begin taking public input.

“We’ll be undergoing formal rulemaking a little bit later on, this summer,” he said.

Almost two years after launching its adult use cannabis market, OCP is starting to work on its first major regulatory update. This also comes on the heels of a series of new cannabis-related laws that were allowed to go into effect in May after Governor Janet Mills declined to veto them.

LD 1827 legalized home delivery and curbside pickup for adult use cannabis operators, but left the regulatory rule making up to OCP.

“The department shall adopt rules to implement this subsection, including, but not limited to, rules establishing security and record-keeping requirements for sales concluded by curbside pickup,” said the final version of the law.

Previously, OCP spent the last two years attempting to update the medical cannabis regulations, with two separate rounds of public comment and proposed rule changes. Both attempts faced strong backlash from medical patients and caregivers over the attempt to require seed-to-sale tracking and mandatory lab testing.

In response to those efforts, the legislature passed LD 1928, which limits the ability of the OCP from enacting any substantial regulatory changes in the medical cannabis market without legislative approval.

That bill also allows for patients to be approved through telehealth and increases various legal protections for caregivers.Finally, the legislature passed LD 1957, which eliminated past drug convictions are a barrier to entry into the market, while also replacing the term “marijuana” with “cannabis” in all regulation and future legislation.

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Zack cut his journalistic teeth covering high school sports in the south before spending a decade covering local government, politics and the courts in the Boston, Massachusetts area. He's previously written...