PORTLAND, Maine (AP) — Maine gave medical marijuana purveyors a surprise in October with new guidelines that limit the sale of pre-rolled marijuana and liquid concentrates, treating them like tobacco.
Maine’s Office of Cannabis Policy released guidance on Oct. 7, banning over-the-counter medical marijuana purveyors from supplying these products altogether, while requiring medical marijuana dispensaries and stores to treat them like tobacco products with a 21-year-old age limit. Marijuana is given to people over 18 who have a medical card.
The new guidance caused an outcry, as pre-rolled products and liquid vaping concentrates are among the most popular and cost-effective cannabis products sold in medical and adult recreational stores.
Democratic Sen. Craig Hickman, chairman of the House Veterans Affairs and Legal Affairs Committee, accused the Maine OCP of “executive branch overreach and bad faith.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Administrative and Financial Services said the OCP’s guidance was intended to respond to questions raised by medical cannabis providers and registrants.
According to Sharon Huntley, the guideline, which “explains current state law for registrants and licensees,” is intended to eliminate confusion.
But Arleigh Kraus, who grows medical marijuana and produces pre-roll products, said state law requires lawmakers to be consulted about rule changes. He also said it doesn’t make sense to treat marijuana like tobacco, and small business owners are worried about being penalized for breaking the rules.
“It’s confusing, it’s scary and it’s nonsensical,” said Krause, who is a member of the Maine Marijuana Commission’s advisory board.
The guidance was provided by Maine OCP Director Erik Gundersen on his last day before leaving to launch a marijuana consulting business. He declined comment and referred questions to the state.
The guideline applies to shops regulated under the adult recreational rules and medical marijuana providers.
But the change won’t affect adult recreational vendors because they already have a tobacco license and there’s already a 21-year-old age limit to shop, said Brandon Pollock, CEO of Theory Wellness, which operates four locations out of Kittery. Bangor.
Hickman said the rules are against the will of the people of Maine and called on the OCP to withdraw the new guidance. He said lawmakers should have a say.
Medical marijuana keepers are confused by the guidance and worried about being arrested for violations, Hickman said.
“Leave medical cannabis keepers without fear and anxiety that they will go into winter, lose their shirts, or be fined and jailed for conduct expressly permitted under current statute,” he wrote in a letter to the state agency on Tuesday.
Maine has a robust medical marijuana industry that predates the legalization of recreational marijuana.
Before recreational sales began two years ago, medical marijuana providers generated more than $266 million in revenue, officials said.
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