Medical Pot Is Now Maine's Most Valuable Crop
Cannabis has become the state’s most valuable agricultural products.
According to sales tax information, medical cannabis alone generated an estimated $222 million dollars in sales through October of this year, with strong sales expected through the fourth quarter as well.
“And it’s not surprising — we’ve known this for a long time,” says Catherine Lewis, board chair for the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine Trade Association.
Lewis says it has been a challenge to get an accurate assessment of the industry as an economic driver for Maine. Only last year did the state begin to record sales tax ID numbers on each caregiver’s application, so that revenue could be tracked more accurately.
And she says some tweaks made in 2018 to how the industry operates have bolstered growth.
“Allowing for better business practices. Allowing caregivers to have employees. Allowing caregivers to open storefronts. Allowing caregivers to wholesale to each other. It allowed for real business,” Lewis says.
And she says the pandemic does not appear to be harming medical cannabis sales.
“Many storefronts are reporting increased sales, whereas other industries are quite the opposite,” Lewis says.
Lewis says some of her clients have had less money to spend this year, but others have been able to use the products more often because they’re working from home, and she says many Mainers are seeking relief from pain conditions, stress and anxiety during the pandemic.
Lewis says sales are also being bolstered by the addition of hemp products such as CBD.
Meanwhile, Maine’s new adult-use marijuana industry is just getting off the ground and has generated about $1.4 million in sales in its first month, according to the Office of Marijuana Policy.
Read the full article here: https://www.mainepublic.org/post/medical-pot-now-maines-most-valuable-crop
All MMCM Classes are cancelled...due to power outages!
All MMCM Classes are cancelled...due to power outages! We will reschedule in January after the Holidays.
Energy Efficiency Rebates Now Available to Maine Cannabis Licensees
Home Grown Maine Trade Show & EXPO
Where as we were not able to have our June HGM Trade Show & EXPO this year due to the Coronavirus.... We would like to offer a
2020 Christmas Event on the website!
Where you can see the "Christmas Special" each of the vendors of the event has to offer. You will be able to click over to their website to purchase, or receive a "code" to use for the "Christmas Special" they are offering in their retail store. The Ads for each Vendor will be up on the website by December 1st, 2020.
Everyone, please stay Safe & Healthy during the Holiday. Hopefully we will be able to entertain everyone next year with our ...
"2021 HGM Trade Show & EXPO"
*Vendors interested in participation please call the office 207-596-3501 (Mon-Wed 10am - 4pm)
Regulators Issue Public Reminders as Recreational Marijuana Sales Poised to Begin in Maine
Actively licensed adult use marijuana stores may begin retail sales to the public on or after October 9, 2020.
AUGUSTA - With the very first lawful sales of adult use marijuana poised to begin on Friday, October 9, regulators with the Office of Marijuana Policy-a part of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services-are taking the opportunity to reinforce important guidance.
Interested consumers are reminded of public health precautions necessitated by the current pandemic and are encouraged to demonstrate patience with marijuana retailers as they implement these safety measures. OMP collaborated with the Maine Department of Health and Human Services' Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development to make a COVID-19 checklist for adult use licensees. Retail customers can expect to be required to wear face coverings and maintain adequate social distancing while waiting in line or shopping in-store.
A complete list of COVID-19-related guidance and recommendations is available on the OMP website: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/resources/guidance-documents
In addition, due to the public interest in this weekend's milestone and to alleviate any confusion for those not well-versed in Maine's cannabis laws, the office offers the following key considerations.
- It's Good to Know. 'Good to Know' is an educational campaign developed by the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention to help Mainers safely, legally and responsibly navigate our state's legal marijuana landscape. Interested consumers may wish to brush up on the laws of Maine related to the possession and use of adult use marijuana, important health considerations, and steps parents can take to prevent youth use and access.
For more information: https://www.goodtoknowmaine.com/
2. Be a Responsible Consumer. It is important that program licensees and consumers demonstrate restraint and respect for the law.
- You must be 21 years old. Like alcohol and tobacco, you must be 21 years of age or older to possess and use adult use marijuana. As with those substances, never transfer marijuana to a minor.
- With edibles, start low and take it slow. Edibles can be more potent than other kinds of marijuana. The effects of edible marijuana can take up to four hours to peak after consumption.
- Don't mix substances. Mixing marijuana with alcohol or prescription drugs can be dangerous. Alcohol and marijuana at the same time is likely to result in greater impairment than when using either one alone. Also, be aware of the effect marijuana can have on prescription drugs. Ask your doctor if marijuana could interfere with your prescribed medication.
- Identify a designated driver. Do not operate a vehicle or heavy equipment while under the influence of marijuana.
- Public space is not the place. Marijuana may not be consumed in public. Be respectful of secondhand smoke when using on private property.
- What's bought here, stays here. Federally, marijuana remains illegal. As a result, marijuana may not cross state or international boundaries.
- Universal Symbol. In Maine, use of a universal symbol is required by adult use marijuana licensees. For product packaging and labeling, the symbol must appear on the front or most predominantly displayed area of the marketing layer.
To deploy Maine's universal symbol, OMP chose to partner with the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to unveil the first-ever shared universal symbol for marijuana and marijuana products. The symbol-which has already been successfully used in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts-features a red triangle above text reading "CONTAINS THC". Centered within the triangle is a black marijuana leaf superimposed on a field of white. THC is the common acronym for tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
4. Adult Use vs. Medical Use. Maine is home to both an existing medical marijuana program and a nascent adult use industry. The medical program serves patients, while Maine's new adult use industry will service consumers 21 years of age and older. Adult use marijuana and medical marijuana may not be dispensed from the same facility. Unless they have changed their license type or have a separate retail facility, existing caregiver retail stores and medical marijuana dispensaries are limited to selling marijuana and marijuana products to patients with valid medical marijuana credentials in their possession.
The adult use program requires mandatory testing at a licensed facility before product ends up on retail shelves. In addition, there are stringent labeling requirements and consumers need only a valid, government-issued photographic identification card to complete a purchase.
Since the inauguration of Governor Janet Mills in January 2019 and the corresponding establishment of OMP in February 2019, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services has been working to honor the will of Maine voters by implementing the licensing and regulatory framework required by the Marijuana Legalization Act.
The State of Maine first made adult use applications available on December 5, 2019; the first conditional licenses were issued on March 13, 2020. OMP was on pace for a spring 2020 launch of adult use before the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated the postponement of these plans. The first active licenses were issued to adult use establishments on Tuesday, September 8, 2020. Actively licensed adult use marijuana stores may begin retail sales to the public on or after October 9, 2020.
OMP is responsible for the oversight of all aspects of legalized marijuana, including Maine's existing Medical Use of Marijuana Program.
As Adult Use Launch Approaches, Track and Trace Credentialing Poised to Begin
Latest Changes from OMP regarding trip tickets
Trip Ticket Form Revised
In response to helpful feedback received from Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program (MMMP) registrants, the Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) has revised the recently released trip ticket form. Most notably, the form has been condensed to one page from two, with a user able to fit several lines of text in Section 3 before necessitating a second page.
MMMP registrants may use either version of the form. As a reminder, the use of OMP-issued trip tickets becomes mandatory starting on July 1, 2020.
Read the Communication: MMMP Letter on Trip Tickets and Operational Adjustments
OMP Completes Emergency Adoption of Marijuana Sample Collection Rules, Proposes Routine Technical Adoption
Earlier today, OMP completed emergency rulemaking related to the sample collection of marijuana and marijuana products. Completion of this important work establishes additional administrative regulations by which samples of marijuana and marijuana products can be collected for Maine's forthcoming adult use industry.
The rulemaking activity was necessitated following changes to state law resulting from Public Laws 2019, Chapter 676. Governor Janet T. Mills signed LD 1545, An Act Regarding the Collection of Samples for Testing of Adult Use Marijuana and Adult Use Marijuana Products, into law on March 23, 2020.
The rules were emergency adopted and are effective until at least Tuesday, September 22, 2020. The new regulations can be found in 18-691 C.M.R. ch. 1, the Adult Use Marijuana Program Rule, and 18-691 C.M.R. ch. 5, the Rules for the Certification of Marijuana Testing Facilities.
Simultaneous to their emergency adoption, OMP has proposed to complete routine technical rulemaking that will make these additions permanent. A public hearing is scheduled via Zoom for Wednesday, July 29, 2020 at 10:00AM EDT. A link will be sent out to participants prior to the date of the public hearing. Interested parties should contact OMP if they would like to attend or participate in the public hearing. OMP will be accepting public comments from now until 5:00PM EDT on Monday, August 10, 2020.
OMP Adopts Remote Compliance Inspections in Effort to Further Enhance Social Distancing Precautions
The Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) continues to monitor developments regarding the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and make adjustments, as necessary, to its operations to support the recommendations of public health experts. The public's health, safety, and well-being are always our top priority.
Effective immediately, OMP will suspend in-person Maine Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP) field inspections in favor of inspections performed remotely by telephone, e-mail, or video conference.
In-depth interviews will be conducted by OMP compliance staff, and we will seek to obtain as much supporting documentation as possible from MMMP registrants. For example, OMP will request images of all applicable permits, licenses, certifications, files, logs, and records. We appreciate your understanding and efforts as we adjust to this new arrangement.
Reminder Regarding Qualifying Patient Certifications
Under the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act, medical providers registered with MMMP are able to provide certifications to patients that are "likely to receive therapeutic or palliative benefit from the medical use of marijuana...".
To be considered a qualifying patient in Maine's medical program and to conduct lawful sales as a MMMP registrant, the purchaser must possess a valid patient certification. A patient certification is only valid if it is issued on "tamper-resistant paper signed by a medical provider...". OMP provides registered medical providers with the state's tamper-resistant patient certification paper at no cost.
Temporary and/or digital medical marijuana cards are not an acceptable form of identification for the purposes of obtaining marijuana for medical use in Maine.
Contacting OMP During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Despite adjustments to our normal business operations, OMP continues functioning at full capacity. As a reminder, current MMMP registrants and prospective and conditional Adult Use Marijuana Program (AUMP) licensees may continue to interact with the office in a variety of ways:
- Online: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/
- Phone: (207) 287-3282
- Mail: 162 State House Station, Augusta, ME 04333-0162
MMMP-related applications and payments may be sent via the United States Postal Service or other common courier. AUMP applications-both individual identification cards and facility applications-are available online and payment may be remitted by mail. Tracking options are available to ensure delivery of your correspondence.
We are all going through this tough journey and trying to stay positive. We want to be able to figure out the best ways to help our communities adapt to this new environment that we are living. We would like to thank our Members, Caregivers, Patients and all of our supporters!
We will not be having our Network meetings at this time, so we will try to keep everyone informed of any important messages regarding our medical cannabis world. We will continue to send out our "Constant Contact Blasts"
Of course we had to cancel the planning of an Informational.. regarding the Insurance Program we are offering. If anyone has an interest in the Supplement Insurance Program being offered...if you are a member, please send an email and phone number. We will have an agent call you to be able to set up an appointment via telephone.
If you would like to become a member..please call the office @ 207-596-3501 and leave a message and Cheryl will call you back to be able to register you over the phone with a credit card. You may also become a member by going to our website http://mmcm-online.org/ and paying through PayPal.
We will work through this together....So stay strong, Be Safe and please stay Connected!
Thank you again for your support!
The Staff at Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine!
OMP UPDATE Wednesday, March 25th, 2020
Metrc Application Programming Interface (API) Now Available
Intended for developers, an API allows third-party software companies to interface with the State of Maine's track and trace portal, should they choose to do so.
Interested developers may find the API documentation on the Metrc website (https://www.metrc.com/maine ) under "Integration & API".
LD 1545 Signed Into Law by Governor Mills
Early last week, in response to COVID-19, the Second Regular Session of the 129th Maine Legislature adjourned approximately one month ahead of schedule.
LD 1545, An Act Regarding the Collection of Samples for Testing of Adult Use Marijuana and Adult Use Marijuana Products, passed both chambers before the conclusion of the session and was signed into law by Governor Mills on March 23. The legislation is effective immediately and is chaptered as PL 2019, ch. 676.
This new law authorizes the licensure and operation of sample collectors to collect samples of marijuana and marijuana products for testing by adult use marijuana testing facilities. It also authorizes an adult use establishment to self-sample their inventory for mandatory testing and deliver those samples to a marijuana testing facility through October 1, 2021. The existing permission for marijuana testing facilities to collect samples directly from adult use establishments remains unchanged.
OMP has already begun drafting the rules necessary to implement these new testing permissions.
Read the Law (HTML): PL 2019, ch. 676
ICYMI: OMP Issues Guidance Memorandum on COVID-19
Yesterday, the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy issued new guidance to Maine Medical Marijuana Program registrants and prospective and conditional Adult Use Marijuana Program (AUMP) licensees on the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the resulting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
Caregivers and dispensaries have been deemed essential and are exempt from COVID-19-related closures based on their classification as "other medical facilities". Registrants should heed the directives of state and local officials relative to any new restrictions on hours of operation.
Read (PDF): Memorandum on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Civil Emergency
Read (HTML): Memorandum on Coronavirus (COVID-19) Civil Emergency
OMP UPDATE Tuesday March 24th, 2020
Office of Marijuana Policy Issues Guidance in Response to COVID-19
In light of ongoing developments regarding the 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) and the resulting coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) has issued new guidance to Maine Medical Marijuana Program (MMMP) registrants and prospective and conditional Adult Use Marijuana Program (AUMP) licensees.
Highlights include the following:
- Background on State Actions Related to COVID-19
- Caregivers and Dispensaries Classified as "Other Medical Facilities"
- Guidance on Cleanliness and Sanitation
- Review Standard Operating Procedures
- Cleaning and Sterilization Improvements
- Encouraging and Facilitating Social Distancing
- State and Federal Guidance
- Accommodating Immunocompromised and At-risk Patients
- Review Standard Operating Procedures
- Guidance on OMP Operations
- Limiting in-person Interaction OMP
- MMMP Employment Applications
- AUMP Application Processing
- AUMP Spring Launch Date
References and Useful Resources
Thank you for your support and understanding during this difficult time...we will all get through this...be healthy and safe!
All MMCM Network meetings will be cancelled until further notice...
MMCM Classess scheduled for March 24th will be cancelled and will be re-scheduled at a later date...
MMCM will not be scheduling their Annual Members Meeting Event at this time...
All Legislative meetings will be closed down until further notice...
MMCM 2010-2020 10 Year Anniversary!
Who is MMCM?
In 2010, Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine was one of the first volunteer trade associations organized in the United States and dedicated itself to the support and promotion of safe access to medical marijuana. MMCM continues to advocate for patient rights and access to safe, quality, cannabis medicines and the caregivers who provide for them. MMCM also developed a training program for those who wish to participate in Maines’ cannabis programs to help them stay in compliance and to promote safe practices. Education, Advocacy and Legislation is their motto.
In 1999, Maine became the fifth state in the country to legalize cannabis for medicinal use.
Voters then passed a Citizens Medical Marijuana Initiative in 2009 allowing patients who have a doctor’s certification to purchase medicinal cannabis from a registered caregiver or dispensary.
Following the passage of this Medical Marijuana Initiative, MMCM was formed as a Trade Association in 2010 to provide advocacy and education for patients, caregivers and the public.
While implementing the Citizens Initiative, the Maine Legislature made major changes before passing it into law in 2010, including a ban on outdoor cultivation, removal of legal protections for patients, and requiring all patients be registered with the State.
In response to these dramatic changes, MMCM became active at the State House and in 2011 intentions of the Citizens Initiative were restored.
MMCM continued to work to improve Maine’s Medical Marijuana Laws and our medical program became voted the best in the country by Americans for Safe Access.
MMCM developed an education program to teach the Maine Medical Laws to patients, caregivers and others interested in the Program. Best business practices was the second class started to ensure compliance with the Medical Program, Taxes and Labor Laws.
However, once again there are State Officials, Legislatures and Lobbyists for other interests pushing legislation and rules that go against the intent of the people, patients and providers in our State legal programs.
Through education, drafting legislation, lobbying and mobilizing efforts, MMCM and our wider community members have been, and will continue to be instrumental in defending the medical program during this time of change as cannabis is: “legalized”.
Press Release from OMP, Maine Office of Marijuana Policy
Maine Cannabis Regulators Execute Agreement with Metrc for Marijuana Track and Trace Services
State, industry stakeholders will utilize Metrc as the turnkey solution for end-to-end tracking and tracing of marijuana products.
AUGUSTA - Today, the Office of Marijuana Policy announced the execution of a six-year contract for marijuana track and trace services with Metrc LLC. OMP will deploy Metrc, the nation's leading solution for cannabis governance. Metrc is a cloud-based software product which will utilize radio-frequency identification (RFID) tags to track the growth and distribution of marijuana and marijuana products throughout Maine.
The service will be deployed in Maine's emerging adult use marijuana program. The state is just months away from legal adult use retail sales, a milestone expected to occur this spring. Following the successful launch of Metrc, OMP and Metrc will shift their focus to introducing the track and trace solution to Maine's existing medical marijuana program.
"We are excited to partner with Metrc," said OMP Director Erik Gundersen. "Metrc is an industry leader, and their team is committed to delivering a product that will allow us to proceed with the launch of our adult use program later this spring."
Over the course of the next several months, OMP and Metrc will engage with industry stakeholders through several avenues to familiarize them with the new system. Starting in mid- to late-March, regional roadshows will be conducted throughout Maine to provide future adult use licensees with a high-level introduction to Metrc and a platform to have their questions and concerns addressed. Following this, Metrc will offer online trainings and evaluations before issuing credentials to prospective licensees. Specific roadshow dates and venues will be announced as details are finalized in the coming weeks.
"We're excited to partner with the OMP to help launch the state's adult-use marijuana market," said Metrc CEO Jeff Wells. "2020 is another significant year for cannabis industry growth, and we look forward to serving the OMP, local cannabis businesses, and the people of Maine."
With the signed contract in place, Metrc will now serve as the track and trace provider for 13 states and the District of Columbia, including regulatory trailblazers such as Colorado, Oregon, and Alaska. In addition, Metrc is already utilized in New England, serving as the track and trace software for the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.
The resulting agreement with Metrc is a six-year contract valued at $540,000. Adult use license holders will be responsible for a $40 monthly license fee to access Metrc's online system. The fee also supports ongoing industry training and technical support. Plant tag and packaging label fees are $0.45 each and $0.25 each, respectively.
Additional information on the deployment of Metrc to Maine's existing medical marijuana program and the obligations of registered caregivers and dispensaries will be announced at a later date.
REMINDER... Hearings on Monday
10:00 AM PUBLIC HEARING
L.D. 1081 An Act To Impose Further Restrictions on where Marijuana May Be Smoked
L.D. 2002 An Act To Improve Compliance with Department of Administrative and Financial Services, Office of Marijuana Policy Registration and Licensure Requirements
L.D. 2091 An Act To Amend the Marijuana Legalization Act and Make Other Implementing Changes
Karen Montell, Committee Clerk Tele: 287-1310
All meetings are held in State House, Room 437 unless otherwise noted.
Hemp License Applications for Indoor and Outdoor Growing Now Open!
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry is pleased to announce that it is now accepting license applications to grow hemp both indoors and outdoors. Application forms can be found on the hemp program webpage and are due at least 30 days before the anticipated date of planting.
Two proposed rule changes not implemented were an increase in the outdoor license acreage fee from $50 to $100/acre and using 0.3 % total THC content instead of delta9-THC only as the defining line between hemp and marijuana.
The Department listened to growers and others during the public comment period of the rule making process. The message was clear; 2020 is not the year to increase fees. The outdoor license acreage fee will remain at $50/acre.
Public feedback was also overwhelmingly in favor of keeping the definition of hemp as a Cannabis sativa L. plant that contains not more than 0.3% delta-9-THC only. Maine will continue to use the 0.3 % delta-9-THC only measurement at least through October 31, 2020, when a USDA-approved program will have to begin.
Three other proposed changes were included in the final rule. The first is unlimited licenses for indoor hemp. The fee for an indoor license will be $500.00 plus $0.25 per square foot of growing area. Being able to grow hemp crops in greenhouses and other indoor structures year-round is an option many Maine farmers have wanted since hemp growing became legal in Maine in 2016.
Another change that did get implemented was a rolling application process. Instead of only being able to apply during the January 1 - April 1 window, applications will be accepted year-round. No longer will all licenses expire at the end of the calendar year; hemp licenses will expire 365 days after the date of issue. When to apply is up to the grower but should be at least 30 days before their anticipated planting date.
The third change that remains in the final rule is the $20,000 cap on licensing agreement fees for either indoor or outdoor licenses separately.
For more information on Maine's hemp licensing program, including the revised Chapter 274, Rules for Growing Hemp, visit https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/hemp/.
There is also an all-day educational opportunity on March 6 about growing hemp in Maine that is being hosted by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension. To register, go to https://extension.umaine.edu/agriculture/growing-hemp-in-maine/
Maine Adult Use Marijuana Facility Applications Now Available
State’s Office of Marijuana Policy releases applications for adult use cultivation, manufacturing, and retail facilities.
AUGUSTA – Today, the Office of Marijuana Policy, a part of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, announced the availability of all adult use marijuana facility applications. Beginning immediately, prospective licensees may commence the application process for adult use marijuana cultivation facilities, products manufacturing facilities, and marijuana stores.
This important step completes the staggered rollout of adult use applications which began on Monday, November 4, 2019. Applications for marijuana testing facilities were previously made available on Monday, November 18, 2019.
“When the Office of Marijuana Policy was established by the Mills Administration in February, we committed to making adult use applications available by the end of the year,” said OMP Director Erik Gundersen. “In the months since, we have worked diligently to accomplish this goal, including spending the last month accepting and processing the Individual Identification Card (IIC) applications of prospective licensees and individuals hoping to work in the new industry. With today’s action, we have made good on our commitment to an industry and public that have been waiting for nearly three years for this moment.”
At its highest level, the process of becoming licensed in the State of Maine’s adult use marijuana program takes three steps: conditional licensure, local authorization, and active licensure, respectively. The conditional licensure process consists of several requirements that must be satisfied prior to acceptance of a completed application, including certain individuals obtaining an IIC.
OMP began accepting IIC applications in early November, a process which includes fingerprinting and state and federal criminal history records checks. Since that time, 400 applications have been received. By the close of business today, 146 cards will be issued to prospective licensees and employees in Maine’s adult use program.
All individuals working in or for a licensed marijuana establishment who possess, cultivate, manufacture, package, test, dispense, transfer, serve, handle, or transport marijuana or marijuana products are required to have an OMP-issued IIC.
“Our staggered rollout of applications has allowed OMP to spend the last four weeks addressing the concerns of industry stakeholders and answering their questions relating to the application process,” added Gundersen. “Similar to our rulemaking work, this process has been exceedingly helpful in allowing our office to establish meaningful relationships with the very individuals we will be licensing and regulating.”
Once all application forms, required attachments, and criminal history record checks are received and deemed complete, OMP has 90 days to either deny the conditional license or issue a non-renewable conditional license valid for one year. If needed, a provision included in the Marijuana Legalization Act by the Maine Legislature allows OMP to utilize up to six months when it first begins accepting and processing adult use applications.
For a conditional license holder to be eligible for an active license they must seek local authorization. Municipalities have 90 days—and in some instances an additional 90 days—to respond to a licensee’s request for local authorization. Once local authorization is received, OMP will request supplemental information and updated documentation from the applicant before they would be eligible to obtain an active license.
A licensee that has been issued a conditional license by the department may not engage in the cultivation, manufacture, testing or sale of adult use marijuana or adult use marijuana products until the department has issued an active license.
Applications are available through the OMP website (https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/adult-use/applications-forms/).
The Mills Administration created OMP within DAFS in February 2019. The Office is responsible for the oversight of all aspects of legalized marijuana, including Maine's existing Medical Use of Marijuana Program.
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry Sends Comments to USDA on Interim Final Hemp Rule
December 4, 2019
For more information contact: Jim Britt at (207) 287-3156
AUGUSTA, Maine - The Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry has issued its comments to the USDA on the Interim Final Hemp Rule, expressing concerns with proposed requirements that have the potential to adversely affect the growth of the hemp industry in Maine. The comments come after a thorough analysis by state officials and include feedback from Maine farmers. The USDA's proposed hemp regulations were released Oct. 29, 2019, and states were invited to review and respond with comments within 60-days.
"The requirements proposed by the interim rule have the potential to be detrimental to Maine farmers who have invested in hemp production, as well as those who are planning to enter this emerging hemp industry," commented Amanda Beal, DACF Commissioner. We strongly encourage the USDA to ensure that the final rules are practical and dont hamper the future growth of hemp production and its potential contribution to Maines economy.
Maines hemp program launched in 2016 with one grower, and today 181 licensed hemp farmers are growing hemp in all of Maines 16 counties, and crop varieties are thriving.
We urge the USDA to deliver a flexible Domestic Hemp Production Program rule that takes into consideration the complexities of hemp production, commented Nancy McBrady, Director, Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources. Maine farmers have spoken, and we agree, that the rules proposed by the USDA are overly burdensome, and we are hopeful that changes will be made that reflect the needs of hemp farmers.
The following comments were submitted E. Ann Gibbs, Director of Animal and Plant Health, Bureau of Agriculture, Food and Rural Resources, on the United States Department of Agricultures (USDA) Interim Final Hemp Rule:
SDA Agricultural Marketing Service Doc. No. AMS-SC-19-0042 SC19-990-2 I. Via Email
Re: State of Maine Comments on USDA Interim Final Hemp Rules
The Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry thanks you for the opportunity to comment on the USDA AMS interim final rule, 7 CFR Part 990 Establishment of a Domestic Hemp Production Program (Rule). Maine has had a hemp program in place since 2016, beginning with one grower who harvested seed from less than an acre. This has since grown to 181 license agreements and over 2000 acres of planted hemp in 2019. Hemp is now grown in every one of Maines 16 counties, and the varieties grown are thriving in all parts of the state. There has been a lot of support for and interest in this new crop by producers, private industry, the state legislature, and the Department. However, we are concerned that the requirements proposed by the Rules will require some major adjustments to the program that could adversely affect the growth of this industry in Maine. Below are our comments regarding how these proposed changes will impact the Maine program.
The Rules require that testing labs be registered with DEA. This may be cumbersome at best and impossible to meet at worst. In 2019, the Maine program switched to using one available private testing lab, which is not currently registered with DEA, because our state lab was unable to process samples. The private lab is ISO 17025 accredited, which is an important accreditation because it requires third-party assessors to evaluate the laboratorys ability to produce precise, accurate test and calibration data, and facilities are regularly reassessed to ensure technical expertise is maintained. ISO 17025 accreditation is more important to the state than DEA registration.
It is also unclear how many labs in Maine will seek DEA registration for hemp, or if they will even be available to test hemp samples. Maine just approved and is implementing a recreational marijuana program, and with the new push to find labs to test marijuana, labs may choose to focus on this crop and not hemp. Hemp testing labs will also need a DEA approved plan for disposal of non-compliant hemp, and those requirements are not clear at this time.
DACF is concerned that the USDAs requirement for a 0.3% Total THC level with no provision for mitigation does not allow for enough flexibility given the realities of the crop. This is not practical: many hemp cultivars are unstable and may fluctuate in THC content depending on soil type, climate, weather, pest infestations, or other plant stress factors. Since the sampling procedures are worst case based and do not include plant material from the entire plant, non-compliant test results should be allowed to be mitigated. The 2018 Farm Bill under Section 297B e(2)(B) Corrective Action Plan appears to allow the state to develop corrective actions when a growers hemp is found to be above 0.3% Total THC. The states corrective action plan should be allowed to include grower requirements to extract from or process the entire plant as biomass when total THC levels are above 0.3% and below 0.5%. (Note that, ideally, Maine would prefer that the upper limit be 1% Total THC because the risk of anyone using that cannabis for the marijuana market is virtually non-existent.) Additionally, the extractor or processor could be required to assure the THC level of any product produced is diluted below the 0.3% threshold, and if any excess THC isolate exists, that it is properly disposed.
Currently, Maine law only requires hemp to be less than 0.3% delta 9 THC (not Total THC). Many of the CBD varieties currently grown will not meet USDAs new total THC threshold. If the USDA retains the 0.3% Total THC level with no allowance for flexibility, the likely outcome for growers would be significant lost investments and diminished market prospects for what limited varieties will qualify as hemp using this limit. The industrys growth prospects could be significantly reduced. We urge the USDA to allow for greater, yet manageable, flexibility in determining THC levels that can qualify as hemp with or without additional mitigation. Another direction the USDA could take on defining what qualifies as hemp is to use taxonomic determination based on the genetic testing of known cannabinoid ratios of stable cultivars. Type III cultivars that are CBD dominant with a ratio of at least 20:1 CBD to THC are not psychoactive and produce high levels of CBD, which is one of the chief derivatives that hemp growers seek.
Under the new Rules, the state will be required to sample every field and every area that has a different variety/strain growing, which will substantially increase the number of samples required to be collected. We believe that this is impractical. DACF currently collects one sample per license agreement, and some of our licensees have 15 20 different grow sites. This year there were 217 grow sites on 182 license agreements and multiple varieties grown on more than half of those sites. Had the new Rules been in effect for 2019, the number of THC samples would have increased from 182 samples to 300 or more. An additional complication for sampling is the requirement for the licensee or a designated employee to accompany the sampling agent throughout the sampling process. This requirement, along with the increased number of samples, will make the states sampling of all hemp lots within 15 days of harvest very difficult. Both of these added burdens will require additional FTEs to complete the sampling within the 15-day timeframe.
The Rules will require hemp farms to register with the USDA Farm Service Agency (FSA). While we understand that the potential benefit to growers for registering is possible financial assistance from FSA under certain future circumstances, we believe it could also be a significant barrier for small, less experienced growers who comprise the bulk of our licensees. Registration with FSA could discourage growers from becoming licensed because many of them are also medical marijuana growers and would not be favorable to registering their land with a federal agency. The state hemp program depends upon license fees to support the regulatory program. If too many growers are discouraged by this requirement, the program may not be self-sustaining.
The requirement for background checks to exclude applicants with a felony in the last 10 years will be a significant change to the Maine program, which does not require such checks. Maines original state statues included a requirement for background checks, which were later deleted in the 2015 laws. This requirement will add another barrier for hemp growers who will be facing numerous new registration and reporting requirements under the Rules. Maine also has a statutory conflict with this requirement. 5 MRS Chapter 341 5303(1) only allows our agency to disqualify an individual from licensing on the basis of a criminal record for a maximum period of three years.
The Rules monthly reporting requirements to the USDA AMS are extensive and will impose burdens on the state to implement. The state will have to develop a more sophisticated and costly database in order to fulfill these requirements. Further, because one of the monthly reports requires submission of geospatial location data, the state will have to amend the current licensing statutes that protect locations of hemp production sites as confidential information. The new reports will also require our current testing lab to change their report format and develop a process to notify the grower as well as the state of the total THC test results for each crop lot. Finally, the Rule requires use of a special license numbering system. Implementation of the new numbering scheme is an additional burden. All of these data and reporting requirements will increase the program workload and require additional state expenses.
Currently, when non-compliant hemp is found in Maine, the Department notifies local law enforcement and then the Department oversees grower destruction of the crop. The USDAs Rule changes this process so that if non-compliant hemp is found, the DEA or another entity authorized to handle marijuana under the Controlled Substance Act will dictate the process for disposal. Recognizing the time and effort that may be asked of these entities in disposal situations, the Department advocates that options for destruction include simple solutions such as mowing, disking-in the crop, or composting.
The Department is concerned that the USDAs approved plan implementation deadline of October 31, 2020, will seriously disrupt Maine and other states current licensing schemes, to the detriment of growers. If growers state licenses are void after that date, it could create a barrier for the licensee to sell their 2020 crop. For instance, if hemp is harvested prior to October 31, 2020, and was tested under the states 0.3% delta 9 THC method, will that hemp no longer be allowed to be sold on or after October 31st? Further, due to the Rules requirement that currently confidential grower data be reported to the USDA, the Maine legislature will need to make statutory changes to current Maine law. Given the states legislative calendar, this may be impossible to achieve by that timeframe. We urge the USDA to rethink this deadline or provide for extended implementation dates, should states face legislative hurdles to comply. An alternative option would be to continue to operate state programs and gradually phase into the Federal program as milestones are achieved to comply with the Rule.
FEDERAL PROGRAMS AND AGENCIES
The Department is hopeful that these rules will establish a firm basis for Land Grant Universities to pursue hemp research without any threat of federal grant disqualification. The University of Maines risk management department has not allowed university staff to conduct any research that requires handling of cannabis of any form. We also are supportive of providing hemp growers access to the USDA-FSA cost-share funding and the USDA-NRCS programs. The Department would support allowing new hemp farmers to access that funding and those programs even earlier than the current rules allow.
The Department hopes these comments are instructive as the USDA determines how to move forward with implementing the Federal hemp program. As presented, these Rules will be challenging to implement for states with existing hemp programs and could threaten the future growth of the industry overall. The years of hands-on and practical experience that Maine, along with numerous other states, has had operating its hemp program should inform the USDA on how these Rules should be amended. Please dont hesitate to contact us if you have any further questions.
Director Division of Animal and Plant Health
Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry
October 24, 2019
Hello, thank you for receiving and sharing this update with your industry peers.
Below is a brief summary of updated hemp and CBD guidelines, followed by full text of the Guidelines for Enforcement.
The July 2019 Maine Agency Guidelines focused on hemp regulation pursuant LD 630 (PL 2019 c.12). This law made it legal in Maine for food, food additives, and food products to contain cannabidiol (CBD). These products will not be considered “adulterated” under Maine law based solely on containing CBD. The state interpreted LD 630 as requiring CBD used in products created in Maine must be derived from hemp grown solely in Maine. This was reflected in the July guidance, which made clear that out-of-state CBD was not allowed to be purchased across state lines and utilized in products manufactured in Maine. The guidance also stated that state inspectors could review documents to verify whether products were derived from Maine-grown hemp. Later in the session, the Maine Legislature passed LD 1749 (PL 2019 c.528). Because LD 1749 had the effect of eliminating LD 630’s prohibition of out-of-state CBD, new guidance was needed.
• LD 1749 allows CBD to be brought into Maine from another state which has a licensed hemp program.
• Several factors remained consistent between the July and October Guidelines:
o The prohibition on the importation of food products containing CBD from another state into Maine remains.
o Ingestible products sold at retail in Maine must be produced in Maine.
o Product labeling requirements remain unchanged, as does the prohibition on making any health claims relating to CBD absent approval pursuant to federal law.
MAINE AGENCY GUIDELINES for ENFORCEMENT of PL 2019 c. 528[LD 1749]
Maine law, like the US Farm Bill of 2018, has expanded the definition of hemp to include cannabis plants and extracts of such plants (including cannabidiol or CBD) which have less than 0.3% delta-9-THC by dry weight. The US FDA retains the authority to regulate food, drug, and cosmetic products, including those containing hemp or cannabidiol/CBD. US FDA has issued statements prohibiting food, unapproved drugs, dietary supplements, pet food, and unapproved animal drugs that contain CBD from interstate commerce. In Maine, the Food Code had similar restrictions about CBD in food. Maine lawmakers responded with emergency enactment of PL 2019, c. 12 [LD 630], effective March 2019, and PL 2019, c. 528, effective September 19, 2019. These laws made changes to Maine’s pure foods and drugs statutes and laws regarding hemp.
This guidance covers inspectors who enforce the Maine Food Code. This includes inspectors from the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, which regulates retail food establishments, and the DHHS Health Inspection Program/designated municipalities, which regulate eating establishments. It is legal, per the Maine Food Code, for licensees to sell edible products containing CBD subject to the conditions outlined below:
• Per 22 MRS §2157(15) packaged food, food additives, or food products must be clearly labeled by including:
o the ingredient it contains (hemp or CBD) and amount by weight or volume;
o name and address of the source of the hemp from which the cannabidiol was derived;
o in the case of extracts (such as CBD oil) or tinctures, indicates the batch number; and
o a disclosure statement that the food, food, additive or food product has not been tested or evaluated for safety; or
• Per 22 MRS §2157(15) unpackaged food, food additives or food products must:
o clearly note the inclusion of CBD on a notice next to the food, food additive or product; next to the pertinent listing on a menu; or in an open manner where the food product is served, and
o have a conspicuously displayed directory for use by customers with information on the contents of all unpackaged food products sold/served that contain CBD from hemp.
• The food product label, menu, advertising, and any other related information must not include health claims that items with hemp or CBD can diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease, condition or injury without approval pursuant to federal law.
• Source CBD may be from Maine or brought into Maine from another state that has a Farm Bill 2014 hemp program. The licensee must have the state hemp program number for the source CBD provider.
• The delta-9-THC content of any hemp, CBD extract, or product must be less than 0.3%.
• Ingestible products (food) may not be imported from out of state if they already contain CBD, since that is still a violation of federal law and the Maine Food Code. Ingestible products sold at retail in Maine must be produced in Maine.
These guidelines are for use by DHHS and DACF retail inspection staff. They will be enforced beginning December 1, 2019. These guidelines may be shared with the understanding that state and federal statutory changes and rulemaking are ongoing and may alter any of the above conditions and/or add new conditions.
For all hemp program information visit https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/hemp/.
Maine Cannabis Regulators Complete Final Adoption of Adult Use Rules
Action by state’s Office of Marijuana Policy establishes timeline for accepting adult use applications and begins staggered rollout of regulated adult use industry.
AUGUSTA – The Office of Marijuana Policy, a part of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services, today announced it has completed final adoption of major substantive rules related to Maine’s adult use marijuana program. The administrative rules establish the regulatory framework governing the licensing, compliance, enforcement and oversight of the forthcoming adult use marijuana industry in Maine and marks OMP’s most significant accomplishment to date.
In accordance with state law, the new regulations become effective 30 days following final adoption, which is Thursday, December 5, 2019. With final adoption complete, OMP will now shift its attention to the application and licensing processes required of prospective adult use licensees.
“Over the last eight months, the Office of Marijuana Policy has worked with legislators, community leaders, public health and safety experts, industry stakeholders, and members of the public to develop and institute regulations that we hope will serve as a model of how to properly regulate marijuana for the rest of the country,” said OMP Director Erik Gundersen. "The goal of OMP has been to put forth the best rules and regulations possible, and our work benefitted significantly from the valuable input provided by stakeholders through this process."
Beginning immediately, prospective licensees may register to complete fingerprinting for their state and federal background checks and complete an individual identification card application. Fingerprinting is available through IdentoGO (https://me.ibtfingerprint.com/), a nationwide provider of identity-related services with locations available throughout Maine. Applications for individual identification cards are available on the OMP website (https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/adult-use/applications-forms/).
All individuals working in or for a licensed marijuana establishment who possess, cultivate, manufacture, package, test, dispense, transfer, serve, handle, transport or deliver marijuana or marijuana products are required to have an OMP-issued individual identification card. Information contained in the background checks will inform the Office’s decisions about whether a prospective licensee or their employees satisfy the character and fitness requirements written into law and rule.
“While our adult use rules do not go into effect until December, beginning the background check process and accepting individual identification card applications are concrete steps prospective licensees can take today to prepare to enter this emerging industry,” added Gundersen. “Making certain applications and forms available in advance will allow our office to better respond to questions raised by applicants of this new program. In the coming weeks, OMP will continue its staggered rollout of adult use applications and forms.”
On Monday, November 18, 2019, OMP will make license applications for marijuana testing facilities available on its website. The remaining applications for adult use marijuana cultivation, products manufacturing, and retail facilities will be made available on December 5, 2019. No individual identification cards or conditional facility licenses will be issued by OMP until at least the effective date of the adult use marijuana program rule.
Occurring a month and a half after the effective date of LD 719, the legislation that made several changes to the Marijuana Legalization Act, final adoption completes the major substantive portion of OMP’s adult use rulemaking activity. Rulemaking on marijuana testing facility licensing is forthcoming.
“We established several lofty goals at the outset of our work, including delivery of adult use rules before the legislature adjourned in June and making adult use applications available by the conclusion of 2019,” concluded Gundersen. “I am proud of the incredible work of our office to fulfill these commitments to an industry and public that have been waiting patiently for this work to be completed.”
OMP was established by the Mills Administration in February 2019 to oversee Maine’s existing medical marijuana program and implement the voter-approved Marijuana Legalization Act. Its first rulemaking began in late March and has continued since then in both the adult use and medical use of marijuana programs.
State of Maine Adopts Universal Symbol for Adult Use Marijuana
Office of Marijuana Policy partners with Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to unveil the first-ever shared universal symbol for marijuana and marijuana products.
AUGUSTA – Earlier today, the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy, a part of the Department of Administrative and Financial Services, introduced the universal symbol that will be used to identify adult use marijuana and marijuana products. The symbol, required by the Marijuana Legalization Act, will be used in Maine by prospective adult use marijuana licensees and the public to identify packages and products containing marijuana.
To deploy Maine’s universal symbol, OMP chose to partner with the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission to unveil the first-ever shared universal symbol for marijuana and marijuana products.
The symbol—which has already been successfully used in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts—features a red triangle above text reading “CONTAINS THC”. Centered within the triangle is a black marijuana leaf superimposed on a field of white. THC is the common acronym for tetrahydrocannabinol, the psychoactive compound found in marijuana.
“The adoption of a universal symbol in Maine is an important measure taken by the Office of Marijuana Policy to ensure Maine people are fully aware that a product contains marijuana,” said Erik Gundersen, director of the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy. “Given our regional proximity and the close personal and business ties our two states share, the use of the same universal symbol will ensure that consumers can clearly recognize products that contain THC whether in Massachusetts or Maine.”
In choosing Maine’s universal symbol, OMP reviewed existing statutory requirements for labeling and packaging as well as the requirements of their provisionally adopted adult use marijuana rules. With that work completed, OMP began to survey established universal symbols and quickly recognized that the form, content, and style of symbols in use by other states were anything but universal.
OMP staff identified the CCC’s symbol as a potential opportunity for collaboration and were pleased with how warmly the suggestion of utilizing the same symbol was received by their counterparts in Massachusetts.
“The Cannabis Control Commission is excited to partner with the State of Maine on the first universal symbol to be shared by two distinct regulatory jurisdictions,” said Shawn Collins, executive director of the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission. “Whether an adult is interested in consuming legal marijuana products or not, our universal symbol helps identify when an item contains THC and serves as a key deterrent to accidental ingestions. Our states share a mutual goal of developing safe and secure marketplaces, and this collaboration demonstrates our progress toward that objective.”
In Maine, use of the universal symbol is required by adult use marijuana licensees. For product packaging and labeling, the symbol must appear on the front or most predominantly displayed area of the marketing layer. It may appear no smaller than half an inch by half an inch.
For edible marijuana products, each single standardized serving of marijuana must be marked, stamped or otherwise imprinted with the universal symbol directly on at least one side of the product. It may not appear less than a quarter of an inch by a quarter of an inch.
While not required, OMP encourages caregivers and dispensaries currently operating within Maine’s Medical Use of Marijuana Program to consider utilizing Maine’s universal symbol.
“I would like to extend my thanks to the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission, Executive Director Collins, and his staff for their work in making this important milestone possible,” added Director Gundersen. “Our positive working relationships with other marijuana-regulating states have been exceedingly helpful as Maine is set to become the second state on the east coast to launch an adult use program.”
Introduction of the universal symbol in Maine comes as OMP prepares to complete final adoption of its rules that will serve as the regulatory framework for the state’s new adult use industry. The office intends to begin accepting adult use applications by the end of 2019.
For more information on Maine's universal symbol, please visit: https://www.maine.gov/dafs/omp/resources/universal-symbol.
An image depicting Maine's newly adopted universal symbol, which OMP deployed after partnering with the Massachusetts Cannabis Control Commission.
Health Insurance, Life Insurance and Monthly Benefits for Caregivers
Registration for BioTrackTHC Trainings Opened Monday
The Office of Marijuana Policy is pleased to announce that the next round of track and trace portal trainings will begin on Monday, October 21, 2019. These training sessions are specifically intended for prospective adult use licensees and will be held in Augusta, Bangor, Hallowell, Lewiston, and Portland.
Registration for these training sessions will open at 8:00AM EDT on Monday, October 7, 2019. Registration is available through the Eventbrite event registration platform and will occur on a first-come, first-served basis.
BioTrackTHC/Track and Trace Portal Training Sessions
- Monday, October 21: Augusta (https://augustabiotrack.eventbrite.com)
- Tuesday, October 22: Bangor (https://bangorbiotrack.eventbrite.com)
- Wednesday, October 23: Hallowell (https://hallowellbiotrack.eventbrite.com)
- Thursday, October 24: Lewiston (https://lewistonbiotrack.eventbrite.com)
- Friday, October 25: Portland (https://portlandbiotrack.eventbrite.com)
In addition, BioTrackTHC manuals and training videos are currently available online: https://www.biotrack.com/maine-manuals/
If you completed a medical use training in September, you will not be required to take an adult use class.
OMP Conducts Public Hearing on Testing Facility Certification Rule
Earlier this week, the Office of Marijuana Policy conducted a public hearing on our proposed marijuana testing facility certification rule.
The public comment period concludes at 5pm EDT on Thursday, October 10, 2019.
Comment may be submitted through the OMP website or to the attention of Gabi Bérubé Pierce, Esq. via the following:
- Office of Marijuana Policy
162 State House Station
Augusta, ME 04333-0162
- Fax: 207-287-2671
See new caregiver application
New Caregiver application showing the costs for 30 plants or new 500’ canopy rule..
PASSED! LD 1218
An Act to Allow Maine Marijuana Caregivers to measure Cultivation Limits by Plant Canopy Size..
Cultivate up to 30 mature marijuana plants OR .....
500 square feet of plant canopy, 60 immature marijuana plants and unlimited seedlings.
Office of Marijuana Policy Provides Update on Rulemaking Activity
State marijuana office prepares for final adoption of adult use rules, releases draft of medical track and trace rules.
AUGUSTA – The Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP), a part of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS), today provided stakeholders and interested members of the public with an update on its current and future rulemaking activity.
OMP was established by the Mills Administration in February to oversee Maine’s existing medical marijuana program and implement the voter-approved Marijuana Legalization Act. Its first rulemaking began in late March and has continued since then in both the adult use and medical use of marijuana programs.
On Thursday, LD 719, An Act To Amend the Adult Use Marijuana Law, went into effect with other nonemergency legislation from the First Regular Session of the 129th Legislature. LD 719 makes several changes to the Marijuana Legalization Act including an amendment to the Maine Food Law to no longer consider edibles produced with recreational marijuana as adulterated, allowing the entry of certain vendors into the limited access areas of licensees, and authorizing the department to impose an administrative hold on a licensee. With LD 719 becoming law, OMP is poised to complete final adoption of Maine’s adult use rules within the next 60 days.
“The Office of Marijuana Policy has worked diligently since being established in February to complete the work required to establish a regulatory framework for Maine’s adult use marijuana industry,” said OMP Director Erik Gundersen. "While our rulemaking activity has been at the forefront of this effort, we have spent the last several months developing forms and applications; developing an online platform for the application process; preparing to deploy our track and trace system; and engaging with industry stakeholders, other state agencies, and members of the public on our work. We look forward to completing final adoption of our adult use rules and moving that much closer to accepting adult use facility applications."
In other rulemaking-related news, a preliminary draft rule related to the tracking and tracing of products in the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program 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.
One aspect of this soon-to-be-proposed rule will be the introduction of “plant-only tracking” for certain registered caregivers who do not operate a caregiver retail store. Plant-only tracking would allow vertically integrated, registered caregivers who directly serve certified patients without transferring marijuana and marijuana products to other caregivers, dispensaries, or marijuana manufacturing facilities to only tag and track the plants they own. Such a proposal would reduce the number of BioTrackTHC security tags—which cost $0.25 each—required to be used by the caregiver.
“A track and trace system helps ensure the health and safety of consumers of medical and adult use marijuana and assists in preventing diversion to an unregulated market,” added Gundersen. “The introduction of plant-only tracking is the recognition that a one-size-fits-all approach will not work with the diverse group of caregivers operating within our medical program. Our goal is to ensure smaller caregivers can focus on what matters most—ensuring patient access to the medicine they need.”
As with other rules proposed by the department, OMP will be scheduling a public hearing and conducting a public comment period. Specific dates will be announced once drafting of the rule is complete and it is formally proposed by the office.
Finally, OMP also plans to propose rules for the licensing of marijuana testing facilities and will be spending time drafting and proposing revisions to the existing Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Program Rule to reflect legislative changes made during both the 128th and 129th Legislatures. Recently completed rulemaking activity includes the emergency adoption and simultaneous proposal of adult use marijuana testing facility certification rules earlier this month.
Confusion reigns as Maine rolls out its marijuana tracking system
BY PENELOPE OVERTON - STAFF WRITER Portland Press Herald
The state's pot policy office initially describes a costly tagging system for tracing products from plant to retail, then offers a more business-friendly explanation hours later.
The state marijuana industry didn’t like what it saw when it got its first look at Maine’s new track-and-trace system Monday: hundreds and hundreds of 25-cent tags required to catalog every plant’s path to pre-rolled joint, vape cartridge or infused candy.
“This will drive prices through the roof,” said medical marijuana caregiver Dawson Julia of Unity. “It’s going to put a lot of people out of business. It will make medicine so expensive that nobody will be able to afford it. It will guarantee the survival of the black market.”
Five hours later, long after most of the 300 shell-shocked growers, manufacturers and retailers had left the track-and-trace kick-off event, the Office of Marijuana Policy issued a clarification. Individual retail products will not require their own track-and-trace tag after all.
The cost of the tag wasn’t the problem. After all, each individual bar-coded label only costs a quarter. It was the sheer number of tags that would have been required to move a plant through its entire life cycle, especially for processed items, like vape cartridges or marijuana-infused baked goods.
Consider that it would have required 1,178 tags, at a total cost of $295, to convert a 10-pound cannabis plant into half-milliliter vape cartridges, based on typical yields. Turning that plant into single-serving 10-milligram chocolate truffles would’ve required 58,900 tags at a cost of $14,725.
“Those are based on averages, of course, but even if the yields vary a little here and there, that’s crazy,” said Darrell Gudroe of Boothbay Harbor, who sits on the board of the Medical Marijuana Caregivers of Maine. “The labor costs of putting (on) all those tags alone would kill a business.”
Under the clarified system, however, the producer would only need a single tag for the plant, a second tag that covered the harvest batch (that could cover a whole room full of plants if the grower harvested them all at once), and a third tag attached to the final package sold to the consumer.
Under this system, the financial impact of the tagging system could be limited if a grower can harvest a whole group of plants at once and if the consumer can buy products in bulk, growers and retailers said. But single-serving products, a favorite among new customers, would still be hard hit.
The Office of Marijuana Policy and BioTrackTHC, the Florida software company that landed the 6-year, $275,000 deal to track medical and adult-use cannabis grown, processed and sold in Maine, apologized for the confusion caused by the dissemination of incorrect information.
The session drew a huge crowd and covered topics ranging from creation of transportation manifests to cover when marijuana is moved from one place to another, such as from a grow to a testing lab, to how cannabis producers who already use tracking software can export their private data into the state system.
More training sessions will be held for medical marijuana industry members this month. Training for a grower, manufacturer or retailer who will be seeking a state recreational marijuana license once Maine launches its retail program in March will begin next month.
Medical marijuana growers, manufacturers and retailers can start using the program before the end of the year, and will be required to have all their plants and products entered into the system no later than 120 days after it goes live, said Office of Marijuana Policy Director Erik Gundersen.
Created eight months ago, the Office of Marijuana Policy has moved quickly to implement the adult-use marijuana program that had lingered on the political back burner since voters approved it in 2016. That haste has led to several missteps when trying to hire professional consultants.
In its after-hours news release, the state did not explain how this happened, or whether the clarification of how the tagging system works corrected a verbal slip made at a live event during a spirited question-and-answer session, or represented a full-fledged change in state policy.
But that clarification left Jennifer Bergeron of Waterville, a wholesale medical marijuana grower, upset about a morning off work to drive to Augusta and spend “a good couple hours getting completely wrong information” from a state agency created to oversee marijuana in Maine and its expert consultant.
“People who are supposed to implement the program in two months just spent hours giving completely inaccurate information,” she said. “At this point, I’m not sure what the tagging requirements are, so it’s hard to say what they mean to me. I know less after that meeting than I knew before it started.”
She worries the additional regulation, with its extra costs and labor, will drive smaller caregivers out of business, which will end up hurting patients. Prices are already going up, she said. She believes this will not stop the black market, but actually drive people to it.
But Paul McCarrier, a medical marijuana store owner in Belfast and president of Legalize Maine, believes Monday’s events demonstrate how responsive the new agency is to industry concerns, such as the financial impact of new regulations and programs that are still in their infancy.
“I’m pretty impressed,” said McCarrier, who sat through the kickoff session and a three-hour caregiver training class on Monday afternoon. “We brought up a legit point and they responded quickly … Shows me again they are taking what we say seriously. They want it to work. We want it to work.”
Interesting..... Legislative History Collection in Maine
New Maine Cannabis Laws & Rules
August MMCM Class
DON'T MISS THIS CLASS!
MMCM has put together a Pesticide Class for Members Only. No charge. You must call to register as seating is limited. 207-596-3501
Friday, Aug 30, 2019
for your Pesticide License
Buker Community Center, 22 Armory Street, Augusta, ME
The training will begin at 8am – noon.
The Exam would be at 1pm.
This will be a Full Training with Exam following. You will need to study the core Manual as well as this training.. to be prepared for exam.
Pesticide Class Credits.... for more information about credits call 207-287-7593
As long as the individual earns the three required recertification credits before the expiration date of their license then they never need to take the exam again. The expiration date for all AgBasic and Private licenses is Oct. 31st of their third year. If the individual has earned enough credits they just renew the license for the $15 fee for another three years. Fyi- you do not need to renew before you're license expiration date but you do need to earn 3 credits before the license expiration date.
Here's the link to the credit calendar showing what is currently being offered in the area for recertification credit classes: https://www.maine.gov/dacf/php/pesticides/credit_calendar.shtml
Looking for the next Pesticide Class? Or need credits?
Your pesticide license needs to be renewed every three years…in order to renew an individual must have earned three credits over that three year period.
MMCM will be setting up a pesticide class in August some time…if you have an interest please call the office so we may get an idea of how many folks would like to attend. There will be no charge for the training or the exam.
For credits, please see the link below…
Here’s the link to a credit calendar showing what is currently being offered in the area for recertification credit classes:
The Governor signed LD 1738
The Governor signed LD 1738 ..which now allows Wholesale transactions to and from other registered caregivers or dispensaries up to 75% of their harvest...
Click here to read amendments.. http://www.mainelegislature.org/legis/bills/bills_129th/billtexts/HP123602.asp
The Department of Administrative and financial Services (DAFS)
AGENCY: 18-691 - Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS), Office of Marijuana Policy
CHAPTER NUMBER AND TITLE: Ch. 4, Marijuana Manufacturing Facilities
PROPOSED RULE NUMBER: 2019-P094
BRIEF SUMMARY: This rule is promulgated to establish standards and procedures related to manufacturing marijuana, marijuana concentrate, and marijuana products. This rule implements requirements of 22 MRS ch. 558-C, including a marijuana track and trace system, and establishes minimum standards for manufacturing marijuana and marijuana products for medical use, including requirements for facility registration, requirements for engaging in marijuana extraction using inherently hazardous substances, staff qualifications, and security and testing. This rule protects public health and assures safe practices related to marijuana manufacturing, requiring a level of competency of facility personnel and appropriate equipment to process and extract marijuana.
PUBLIC HEARING: Monday, July 8, 2019 - 8:00 a.m., Deering Building, 90 Blossom Lane, Room 101, Augusta, ME 04330
COMMENT DEADLINE: Thursday, July 18, 2019
FINANCIAL IMPACT ON MUNICIPALITIES OR COUNTIES (if any):
STATUTORY AUTHORITY FOR THIS RULE: Title 22 ch. 558-C
SUBSTANTIVE STATE OR FEDERAL LAW BEING IMPLEMENTED (if different):
DAFS WEBSITE: www.maine.gov/dafs/
Adult and Recreational Rules
Due to VLA Committee recommending statutory changes, the LD1837 which has been replaced with LD719 is in the revisors office, and today is the last day of session. Nothing to do but just wait and see.
Provisionally Adopted Rules/ Department of Administrative and Financial Services
The Office of Marijuana Policy has provisionally adopted rules to establish a regulatory framework governing adult use, also known as recreational, marijuana in Maine.
The Marijuana Legalization Act includes both mandatory and discretionary rulemaking concerning OMP and its umbrella organization, the Department of Administrative and Financial Services. Broadly, statute states that DAFS shall “adopt all rules necessary to implement, administer and enforce” the MLA. In addition, the statute specifies rulemaking in areas including, but not limited to, tracking marijuana plants and product, enforcement and compliance, health and safety data, labeling and packaging, and licensing and fees.
Click on the link below to see a copy of these rules…
Department of Administrative Financial Services has released a draft for the adult use rules..........
Please click here to review the Draft Rules....
MMCM would appreciate a response with feed back ...
Federal Cannabis Industry Banking Reform Bill gets a hearing next week
In the first in what are anticipated to be multiple Congressional hearings to address the federal prohibition and criminalization of marijuana, the House Financial Services Committee has scheduled to convene a markup on The Safe Banking Act, HR 1595.
Thousands of state-licensed and regulated businesses lack access to the banking industry and are unable to accept credit cards, deposit revenues, or write checks to meet payroll or pay taxes because federal law discourages financial institutions from engaging in such partnerships. This ongoing federal prohibition forces this newly emerging billion-dollar industry operates largely on a cash-only basis — an environment that makes businesses more susceptible to theft and more difficult to audit. It also places the safety and welfare of these business’ customers at risk, as they must carry significant amounts of cash on their persons in order to make legal purchases at retail facilities.
NORML Political Director Justin Strekal said:
“This situation is untenable. No industry can operate safely, transparently, or effectively without access to banks or other financial institutions. In order to best support the states that have had the good judgment to license and regulate businesses to produce, manufacture, or distribute cannabis, it is critical that Congress address the lack of basic banking services and amend federal law accordingly.
“The banking issue is just one aspect of the failed policy of federal marijuana criminalization. In order to truly bring the marijuana industry out of the shadows, actions need to be taken by Congress to amend this, and many others, outdated and discriminatory practices.
“This will certainly not be the last hearing of this Congress to discuss marijuana prohibition and we expect a full hearing on prohibition to be scheduled in the months to come.”
Congressman Ed Perlmutter said, “For six years, Congress has failed to act on the issue of cannabis banking, putting thousands of employees, businesses and communities at risk. However, the issue is finally receiving the attention it deserves with the first-ever congressional hearing and now a scheduled committee vote. With 97.7% of the U.S. population living in a state where voters have legalized some form of adult recreational, medical or limited-medical use of marijuana, congressional inaction is no longer an option. And with broad, bipartisan support in the House, I look forward to the SAFE Banking Act continuing to move forward in the Financial Services Committee and on the floor of the House.”
According to the most recent FBI Uniform Crime Report, police made 659,700 arrests for marijuana-related violations in 2017. That total is more than 21 percent higher than the total number of persons arrests for the commission of violent crimes (518,617) in 2017. Of those arrested for marijuana crimes, just under 91 percent (599,000) were arrested for marijuana possession offenses, a slight increase over last year’s annual totals. Total marijuana arrests in 2017 increased for the second straight year, after having fallen for nearly a decade.
Thirty-three states, Washington, D.C. and the U.S. territories of Guam and Puerto Rico have enacted legislation specific to the physician-authorized use of cannabis. Moreover, an estimated 73 million Americans now reside in the ten states where anyone over the age of 21 may possess cannabis legally. An additional fifteen states have passed laws specific to the possession of cannabidiol (CBD) oil for therapeutic purposes.
Sixty-eight percent of registered voters “support the legalization of marijuana,” according to 2018 national polling data compiled by the Center for American Progress. The percentage is the highest level of support for legalization ever reported in a nationwide, scientific poll.
Majorities of Democrats (77 percent), Independents (62 percent), and Republicans (57 percent) back legalization. The results of a 2017 nationwide Gallup poll similarly found majority support among all three groups.
To date, these statewide regulatory programs are operating largely as voters and politicians intended. The enactment of these policies have not negatively impacted workplace safety, crime rates, traffic safety, or youth use patterns. They have stimulated economic development and created hundreds of millions of dollars in new tax revenue.
Specifically, a 2019 report estimates that over 211,000 Americans are now working full-time in the cannabis industry. Tax revenues from states like Colorado, Oregon, and Washington now exceed initial projections. Further, numerous studies have identified an association between cannabis access and lower rates of opioid use, abuse, hospitalizations, and mortality.
Please Note these Changes…..
For Immediate Release: Friday, March 1, 2019
Contact: David Heidrich, (207) 624-7800
Director of Communications, Department of Administrative and Financial Services
Office of Marijuana Policy Announces New RFP for Seed-to-Sale Provider
State of Maine withdraws contract with Metrc, will conduct a competitive procurement for a unified marijuana tracking solution.
AUGUSTA – The Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP), a part of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services (DAFS), today announced plans to seek bidders to provide a seed-to-sale tracking system for the adult-use marijuana and the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana programs.
DAFS announced last month that it had entered into a three-year contract with Franwell, Inc. for marijuana track and trace services utilizing Metrc. The tracking solution would have been deployed in Maine’s medical program, with plans for amending that agreement at a later date to expand Metrc to adult-use recreational marijuana.
Maine’s adult-use marijuana industry is anticipated to be much larger than the current medical marijuana program, which consists of eight dispensaries and approximately 2,500 caregivers. As a result, counsel in the Office of the Attorney General encouraged OMP to conduct a request for proposals (RFP) for adult-use tracking services rather than risk time-consuming and costly litigation by amending the Department’s existing agreement to include Maine’s developing adult-use program.
NOTICE…by Maine Department of Agriculture, Conservation & Forestry
Misbranded/Adulterated Pesticide Product
The Oregon Department of Agriculture (ODA) has ordered the stoppage of sale and distribution of a pesticide product manufactured by Southern Agriculture Insecticides Inc., after finding the presence of three pesticide active ingredients not listed on the product label.Triple Action Neem Oil Broad Spectrum Fungicide, Insecticide, Miticide is labeled for use on house plants, trees and shrubs, fruits and vegetables, and lawns, and for use in and around homes and home gardens.
The label lists the only active ingredient as "Neem Oil," and may be identified by the EPA Reg. No. 70051-2-829. This product is listed for Organic use by the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI). Actions came following an investigation of the product and laboratory analysis that found the presence of the active ingredients malathion, chlorpyrifos, and permethrin, which are not listed on the label.
This product is currently registered in Maine. It is prohibited from use for commercial marijuana production. All other growers who may have purchased the product are being asked to refrain from using it.
Read the entire memo.
For more information about the Board of Pesticides Control visit:
State of Maine Inks Agreement with Marijuana Track and Trace Provider
State, industry stakeholders will utilize Metrc, Franwell Inc.’s turnkey solution for end-to-end tracking and tracing of marijuana products
Please see press release about Maine’s entry into contract with Metrc for a Seed-to-Sale track and trace system:
The 4/11 Augusta event referenced in press release will be at the Augusta Civic Center Auditorium from 1:00-4:00.
We are also planning events in other regions, tentatively for the week of 4/22.
A registration process will be set up within the next couple of weeks. We’ll inform you when ready.
RE: CBD/Hemp FDA Memo & Maine's Response
MMCM Trade Association
RE: CBD/Hemp FDA Memo & Maine's Response
The State of Maine has mistakenly made a stance against the use of CBD as an ingredient in consumable items, except as a medical cannabis patient/caregiver/dispensary.
Notices are being distributed stating no sales of consumable cbd products are allowed due the memo from the FDA stating it is not an approved food ingredient.
Hemp has been legalized nationally through the farm bill. None of the compounds found in hemp were excluded in that legalization. Hemp oil including all of its cannabinoids have been safely used orally forever. Not only has it been used safely it has been found to help many medical ailments. CBD itself is non-psycho active and does not cause a "high". Maine has a legal hemp program, a legal medical cannabis program and a legal adult use program. None of those laws prohibit any component of the cannabis/hemp plant. Maine is developing a vibrant and robust economy around these three programs. Jobs have been created, farms are being revitalized and the industry is thriving. Patients using CBD only for wellness have been able to safely source locally the products they consume without the additional cost of a medical certification until now. The State of Maine is benefiting through fees and taxes, the Maine people are benefiting with employment, business opportunities and improved wellness.
If the Dept of Agriculture, CDC and D.A.s Office continue down this path, they will lose yet another industry that the Maine people need. There are many companies that have invested in Maine by the millions that are now looking to relocate to Massachusetts and other states that are open to their businesses.
While the Trade Association has supported the certification process in the Maine Medical Cannabis Program, hemp is nationally legal and all natural derivatives from the hemp should be available to all citizens.
Please let your State Reps know how devastating this stance is and ask that the Governors' office put a hold on this action.
MMCM Trade Association
We need to reach out to our representatives ...find your representative here...
AND, we should all reach out to the Governor's Office, asking to put a HOLD on this action!
Come Rally with us!
Tuesday, February 5th
Rally For CBD and Hemp Farmer Rights
Tomorrow 9 AM • Maine State House • Augusta, Maine
Recently the Maine CDC and Department of Agriculture have issued new policies which make hemp CBD food products illegal to sell unless you are a caregiver or dispensary selling to a certified patient. About 90+% of all hemp grown in Maine will be added to food products of some sort. Many CBD retail stores are now in unforeseen distress. Millions of dollars of upscale high tech laboratories have been built in Maine specifically to extract food grade products from hemp. Hundreds of taxpaying employees have been hired. Citizens are experiencing unexpected benefits from CBD products throughout our state. In short most in the industry have their livelihoods on the line. We have invested everything and this is how we make our living. Please come to Augusta to help explain to our elected officials why we need emergency action to fix this as soon as possible. STARTING 9AM ENDING WHEN WE GET A ANSWER OF HOW AND WHEN WE GET OUR RESTORED FREEDOM AND LIVELIHOOD. MEET UNDER THE DOME 3RD FLOOR. If you can not make it please make sure to call and voice your concerns: House 207-287-1400 Senate 207-287-1540 LEAVE CBD ALONE AND PLEASE FOCUS ON OPIOIDS!!
(NEW VENUE) for MIDCOAST Network meetings…..Come check it out!
February 28th, 2019 6:00- 8:00pm
Off Shore Restaurant 770 Commercial Street, Rockport, ME 44856
*No longer having Boothbay Harbor Network Meetings
Come Join us!
"Access to Monthly Networking Meetings"
MMCM members gain access to member only meetings held throughout the state every month. These interactive meetings begin with a networking session and are followed by a formal presentation, which includes important legislative updates, upcoming community events and guest speakers. These networking meetings are the best way for caregivers and patients to keep abreast of Maine's fast moving medical marijuana program.
Big Shout Out..... to everyone that contributed and donated money , time and effort to make this event a Special Day for our Veterans.
Canna Care Docs served over a 95 Veterans with a certification. Homegrown Healthcare of Maine and MMCM fed Veterans and families, and gave out over 100 free goodie bags.
The Canna Connection Radio Show
Sponsored by MMCM
broadcastedby The Mix Maine Media 107.9
Advertise your Business on Monday nights 6:00pm- 7:00pm
420 Sponsorship- A monthly Investment of $420.00 includes:
- 3 live sponsor mentions
- 2 30second commercial in show
- 40 30second monthly show promos
- Daily DJ mentions
- Inclusion on the show page at mixmaine.com
Work Place Safety Training
MMCM offered a Work Place Safety Training on Sept 10th, with Linda Doran, Maine Labor Group....which is an OSHA requirement for employers with 5 or more employees.