MAINE MEDICAL MARIJUANA BUSINESSES DEEMED “ESSENTIAL” IN LIGHT OF PANDEMIC
March 26, 2020
Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) issued a memorandum today explaining that medical marijuana businesses are deemed “essential” and may continue operating despite the spread of COVID-19. However, OMP urges medical marijuana businesses to take all necessary precautions to ensure proper sanitization and social distancing in their facilities.
The memo, which can be found here, provides a baseline for increasing precautionary measures and also provides links to other state and federal guidance documents and directives for review.
Other key points from OMP’s memo include the following:
Medical marijuana dispensaries and caregivers are classified as “other medical facilities” under the Governor’s executive order and are allowed to stay open. Governor Mills urged “non-essential” public-facing businesses to close but medical marijuana businesses are exempt from this guidance.
OMP will continue inspections of medical marijuana facilities and stores for the foreseeable future, while taking necessary precautions.
OMP is continuing to review and process adult use marijuana establishment license applications. More conditional licenses will be issued soon, potentially as early as this Friday.
OMP is prioritizing caregiver assistant and dispensary employee applications in the medical marijuana program in order to mitigate the likelihood of potential staffing shortages if employees get sick (it should not take more than one week to process employment-related applications, but please ensure all materials are complete prior to submission to ensure timely processing).
The Maine Legislature adjourned one month ahead of schedule, but managed to pass one marijuana-related bill that was signed into law by Governor Mills. LD 1545 addresses a potential bottleneck relating to mandatory testing of adult use marijuana and marijuana products. The law creates a new category of license for sample collectors so that testing facilities will not need to send their own employees to collect samples from facilities across the state. Until October 1, 2021, a cultivation facility licensee, products manufacturing facility licensee, marijuana store licensee, or an employee of a licensee will also be able to collect samples of the licensee's adult use marijuana or adult use marijuana products for mandatory testing and deliver those samples directly to a marijuana testing facility for testing.
There may be another delay in the rollout of the adult use marijuana program because municipalities that are in the process of amending their ordinances to “opt-in” to allow marijuana establishments (most notably testing facilities) have pushed back their public hearings and votes. Even if the timeline proceeds as planned, it is possible there will be limitations on new adult use businesses as the need for social distancing may continue into the late spring/summer.
Please reach out to a member of Drummond Woodsum’s regulated substances practice group if you have questions about this memo or steps you should be taking to protect your business and customers. We will be posting updates on our cannabis law and policy blog as the situation develops. Please stay safe and well.