Social cannabis sales delayed in Maine


Logan Lowrey-Rasmussen

Maine will not make its February deadline for beginning the sales of social cannabis and will not be ready until next summer at the earliest, according to the committee tasked with implementing legalization.

A special legislative commission finished preliminary work on how Maine residents can grow, buy and sell social cannabis Tuesday, addressing issues ranging from licensing fees, tax rates and consumer protections. The draft bill will go to a public hearing in September and a full legislative vote in October.

But the agencies which oversee the launch and daily operations of Maine’s social use market will not have time to write departmental rules, hire new inspectors, license growers, retailers and testing labs before legislative delay on social sales ends in February, said Sen. Roger Katz of Augusta, a committee co-chairman.

In January, the Legislature delayed implementation of all but the home grow sections of the Cannabis Legalization Act until February 2018, which will give the state time to draft a regulatory framework for retail cultivation and sales overseen by the Department of Agriculture, Conservation and Forestry, and the Department of Administrative and Financial Services.

“The law as written and adopted by voters would have gotten the legal marketplace up and running as soon as possible,” said Paul McCarrier, president of Legalize Maine. “We could have a program ready to issue licenses now, but the committee thought it knew better than the voters.”

McCarrier predicted Maine will not issue its first social use licenses until summer 2018. Committee analysts plan to have a draft bill written by the first week of September, while a cleaned-up version of the draft bill will go to a Sept. 26 public hearing.