Maine Aims to Disallow Out-of-town Cannabis Business Owners

The state of Maine is determined to preserve its requirement that cannabis businesses be owned by its own residents, bringing the dispute into uncharted legal territory.

First, some background. Officials in the Pine Tree State “originally required all medical and recreational cannabis businesses to be owned by residents,” as the Portland Press Herald explained in an article. 

But that requirement was challenged last year by Wellness Connection of Maine, the state’s largest chain of medical cannabis dispensaries that had sought a license for a recreational cannabis dispensary in Portland, the capital city of Maine.

Wellness Connection, which is owned by a Delaware-based LLC, filed a lawsuit against the city of Portland after council members there approved an ordinance capping the number of licenses for adult pot use dispensaries and establishing a system that gave preferential treatment to local applications.

Matt Warner, an attorney for Wellness Connection, argued that the requirement was unconstitutional, saying that as “a matter of constitutional law, states and cities can’t discriminate against citizens of other states based purely on residency.”

“More than 25 percent of the points awarded through Portland’s competitive licensing process are based on residency, so we’re automatically disqualified for those points, based purely on our owner being from Delaware,” Warner said at the time.

The company argued in its filing that limiting “the opportunities for (Wellness Connection) to create a brand, build a reputation and establish customer loyalty in Portland at the adult-use market’s inception would harm them in ways that cannot be reduced to a monetary damages award.”

The state stood down, eventually doing away with the requirement for recreational cannabis businesses, and in August, a federal court sided with Wellness Connection in a ruling that overturned the in-state residency requirement for medical marijuana dispensaries. 

That decision, from U.S. District Court Judge Nancy Torresen, has set the stage for the latest round in the dispute between the state and Wellness Connection, with Maine seeking to uphold its requirement that medical dispensaries be owned by residents.

The Press Herald reported that it “appears the case is the first of its kind to reach a federal appeals court, where the opinion could have ramifications in other states,” with the central question hovering over “whether the residency rule violates the U.S. Constitution by restricting interstate commerce.”

In her ruling back in August, Torresen said that the “notion that the medical marijuana industry in Maine is wholly intrastate does not square with reality.”

“I recognize that none of the courts that have confronted this specific constitutional issue have rendered final judgments, and it also seems that no circuit court has addressed it,” the judge wrote, as quoted by the Press Herald.

“But given the Supreme Court’s and First Circuit’s unmistakable antagonism towards state laws that explicitly discriminate against nonresident economic actors, I conclude that the Dispensary Residency Requirement violates the dormant Commerce Clause.”

The appeal has been filed by both the state of Maine and a nonprofit industry group called the Maine Cannabis Coalition, which is in favor of the residency requirement.

In briefs filed in the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, the state says that “the dormant Commerce Clause does not apply to Maine’s intrastate market for medical marijuana.”

“Nor do the residency requirements in the Maine Medical Use of Marijuana Act burden interstate commerce more severely than Congress, because Congress has already eliminated that market,” the brief said, as quoted by the Press Herald. “Because striking down Maine’s residency requirements at issue in this case would do nothing to expand legal interstate commerce in the United States, they should stand.”

The post Maine Aims to Disallow Out-of-town Cannabis Business Owners appeared first on High Times.

Maine Official Condemns Influx in Illegal Cannabis Activity

The top cannabis official in Maine sounded the alarm this week on illicit conduct tied to the state’s medical marijuana industry and illegal cannabis.

Erik Gundersen, director of the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy, made the comments to the Maine Legislature’s Marijuana Advisory Commission, which held a meeting on Tuesday.

The Bangor Daily News reported that Gundersen told the commission that “he believes there’s more illegal activity connected to the state’s medical marijuana industry and that his office has few tools to prevent medical cannabis from finding its way to the black market,” saying his office has 12 field investigators who are far from “sufficient for performing the necessary level of oversight when the investigators are only getting to registrants every four to five years.”

Gundersen noted that “the vast majority of caregivers in the medical marijuana industry are following the rules,” but that illegal activity nevertheless persists.

“It’s an economics thing. You can do quick, back-of-the-napkin math,” Gundersen said, as quoted by the Bangor Daily News. “I would imagine it’s easy to veer into the more gray area.”

Recreational and medical marijuana are both legal in Maine. It was reported that Gundersen told the legislative commission that his “office has fewer ways to regulate the medical use market than the recreational market for which retail sales started just last year.”

Voters in Maine legalized medical cannabis all the way back in 1999, and they did the same for recreational marijuana in 2016—although that law’s rollout was stymied by opposition from former Maine Gov. Paul LePage, who was staunchly opposed to legalization.

LePage vetoed legislation in 2017 that would have implemented the voter-approved law, but lawmakers in the state overturned his veto the following year.

In 2018, Maine voters elected a different governor, the Democrat Janet Mills, who moved quickly to implement the new marijuana law. Mills signed legislation in June of 2019, months after being sworn in, that helped finally implement what voters had sought years earlier.

Recreational pot sales finally began in the state in October of last year. By May, the state had racked up $5.3 million in recreational pot sales, which at the time was the highest grossing month since the market opened.

Gundersen said at the time that one of “the main goals of cannabis legalization is to diminish the illicit market.”

“The strong month-over-month growth here in Maine, just seven months after the official launch of the industry, suggests more and more consumers are choosing the tested, tracked, and well-regulated market over the illicit market,” Gundersen said then. “That is a positive sign for Mainers’ health and for the viability of the industry. With Maine’s busy summer season upon us, our effective regulation of the industry will continue.”

In August, the state doubled that total, pulling in more than $10 million in recreational pot products.

Despite those successes, Gundersen’s comments this week served as a reminder of the resilience of the illicit marijuana market, even in states and cities that have embraced legalization.

In California, for example, where voters legalized recreational pot use five years ago, “fully legal weed makes up just a fraction of the state’s marijuana market, with some experts estimating that 80 to 90 percent of cannabis sales in California still fall into a legal gray zone,” according to a report last week by National Public Radio.

Gundersen said Tuesday that it is “certainly one of the underlying objectives of a legalized market to eradicate the traditional market.”

“And that’s one of the things that I think, here in Maine, we’re struggling with,” he said, as quoted by the Bangor Daily News.

The post Maine Official Condemns Influx in Illegal Cannabis Activity appeared first on High Times.

Maine Recruiting Members of New Medical Marijuana Workgroup

Cannabis regulators in Maine are recruiting members to serve on a new workgroup tasked with advising the state on its medical marijuana program. Dubbed the Marijuana Working Group, the newly formed panel will consist of civic officials, industry representatives, caregivers, and medical marijuana patients who will make recommendations to Maine’s Office of Marijuana Policy (OMP) with the goal of improving the state’s medicinal cannabis program.

On Friday, OMP director Erik Gundersen announced the formation of the new working group in a press release from the agency.

“We look forward to the opportunity presented by convening a group of well-qualified individuals in pursuit of a shared goal to both preserve patient access and support the regulated marketplace,” said Gundersen.

Maine legalized medical marijuana in 1999, while cannabis was legalized in the state for use by adults in 2016. Governor Janet Mills created the OMP as part of the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services to regulate both medicinal and recreational cannabis in 2019.

Prohibitionist Need Not Apply

The Marijuana Working Group will be composed of representatives of the OMP and at least 16 volunteer external members, with all but two seats on the panel reserved for members of the medical marijuana community. Five seats are reserved for registered caregivers, and three more will be filled by qualifying medical marijuana patients. The medical marijuana industry will also be represented on the workgroup, including two seats to be filled by a registered dispensary, one by a marijuana testing facility, and another by a cannabis products manufacturer.

The working group’s membership will be rounded out by two health care professionals with a relevant area of expertise and two representatives of municipal governments. To be qualified for the panel, prospective members must have relevant experience for the seat for which they are applying. Those seeking seats reserved for industry representatives must hold an active license or registration with the OMP and be in good standing with the Maine Department of Administrative and Financial Services. 

Prospective members of the Marijuana Working Group must also not be a registered lobbyist with the Maine Commission on Governmental Ethics and Election Practices, except for those individuals who lobby directly and solely on behalf of their employer. Additionally, those seeking a seat on the workgroup must be “able to certify applicant’s interests are not prohibitionist in nature,” according to the listed qualifications for the panel. Members chosen to serve on the working group will be selected by the OMP following the public request for applications now underway.

“Our vision as a cannabis regulator has always been to develop a good faith partnership with our stakeholders by establishing rules and policies that provide interested consumers with access to a regulated industry,” said Gundersen.

Meetings Begin Next Month

Meetings of the new medical marijuana workgroup will be conducted and chaired by representatives of the OMP at least four times between September 28 and the end of November, and recommendations of the panel will be referred to regulators and lawmakers for further action. The group will use insight from the meetings to advise regulators with the OMP on best practices in patient education and access, as well as ways to update or improve Maine’s medical cannabis program.

“Outcomes resulting from the meetings are expected to include steps that may be taken through legislation and rulemaking or developing recommendations for streamlining the office’s licensing and compliance processes to ensure the medical-use program is fulfilling the hallmarks of a regulated industry,” the OMP wrote in the release.

Applications for those wishing to serve on the Marijuana Working Group and a schedule of upcoming meetings are available online. Applications for membership on the panel will be accepted by the OMP until Friday, September 3, 2021.

The post Maine Recruiting Members of New Medical Marijuana Workgroup appeared first on High Times.

Episode 371 – Where Cannabis Reform is Headed

Mike Liszewski and Brian Adams join host Heather Sullivan to talk about the future of cannabis reform at the local level, what 2022 could hold for the reform of psychedelic laws, and the latest developments in Ohio for legalized adult use marijuana. Produced by Shea Gunther.

Friday, April 30, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, April 30, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Key Senate Chair Shifts Stance On Tying Marijuana Banking Bill To Sentencing Reform (Marijuana Moment)

// Louisiana Lawmakers Approve Marijuana Licensing Bill In Anticipation Of Legalization (Marijuana Moment)

// Louisiana Governor Says He Has ‘Great Interest’ In Marijuana Legalization Bill Advancing In Legislature (Marijuana Moment)


These headlines are brought to you by Agilent, a Fortune 500 company known for providing top-notch testing solutions to cannabis and hemp testing labs worldwide. Are you considering testing your cannabis in-house for potency? Agilent is giving away a FREE 1260 HPLC system for one year! If you are a Cultivator, processor, or cannabis testing lab you may qualify for this giveaway. Open up bitly.com/cannabis-contest to answer a few quick questions to enter to win!


// Canadian Cannabis Sales Grow 74% in February to $263 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Maryland Cannabis Industry Grew By 40 Percent in 2020 (Outlaw Report)

// Legal pot in R.I. ‘inevitable’ but may not happen this year State House leaders say (Providence Journal)

// Ascend Wellness Raises $80 Million in IPO (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Gage Cannabis Turns In Solid Fourth Quarter Fiscal Year (Green Market Report)

// Bipartisan Lawmakers Want Federal Protections For Marijuana States In Next Spending Bill (Marijuana Moment)

// Maine Proposal Would Legalize Psilocybin Mushroom Therapy For Adults No Medical Diagnosis Needed (Marijuana Moment)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Geoff Livingston/Flickr

Friday April 9, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Friday, April 9, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Mexican Senators Weigh Yet Another Extension Of Marijuana Legalization Deadline (Marijuana Moment)

// California cannabis firm Glass House Group to be bought in $567M deal (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Canopy Growth to Acquire Supreme Cannabis for $435 Million in Stock (New Cannabis Ventures)


These headlines are brought to you by Atlantic Farms, a Maine-based multistate cannabis business with operations in Maine and Massachusetts. Atlantic Farms is looking for people to help it grow and evolve as investors. Open up TheAtlanticFarms.com for more on the company and email info@theatlanticfarms.com to learn about investment opportunities.


// Connecticut Governor Says Marijuana Legalization Will Be Decided By Voters If Lawmakers Fail To Enact Reform (Marijuana Moment)

// Delaware Marijuana Activists Stage Boycott Of Medical Dispensaries That Testified Against Legalization Bill (Marijuana Moment)

// Verano Holdings Reports 2020 Pro Forma Revenue Grew 196% to $355 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// KushCo Holdings Q2 Revenue Increases 23% Sequentially to $32.9 Million (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Maine Lawmakers File Bill To Decriminalize Possession Of All Drugs (Marijuana Moment)

// Texas Lawmakers Unanimously Approve Medical Marijuana Expansion Bill In Committee (Marijuana Moment)

// Most Americans Think Marijuana THC and CBD Are the Same Chemical Poll Says (Newsweek)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: VV Nincic/Flickr

Tuesday, March 30, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, March 30, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// New York Lawmakers May Vote For Legalization On Tuesday (Green Market Report)

// New Mexico GOP Senator Circulates Draft Marijuana Bill Ahead Of This Week’s Special Session (Marijuana Moment)

// Mexican Senate Will Pass Marijuana Legalization Bill As Revised By Deputies Top Lawmaker Says (Marijuana Moment)


These headlines are brought to you by MJToday Media, publishers of this podcast as well as our weekly show Marijuana Today and the most-excellent Green Rush Podcast. And check out our new show Weed Wonks!


// Virginia gets real on legalization aims to move up start date to 2021 (Leafly (AP))

// Ohio’s growing medical marijuana market poised to reach $400 million in sales a year (Marijuana Business Daily)

// Ayr Wellness Buys Garden State Dispensary For $101 Million (Green Market Report)

// New Bill Would Scrap Controversial Changes To Maine Medical Marijuana Program (Marijuana Moment)

// Kansas Lawmakers Approve Medical Marijuana Legalization Bill Clearing It For Floor Vote (Seven Days VT)

// Scott Announces Picks for Vermont’s Cannabis Control Board (Boston Globe)

// Can landlords really ban marijuana edibles? Usually not but that hasn’t stopped them from trying ()

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

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Photo: Wadester16/Flickr

Tuesday, March 16, 2021 Headlines | Marijuana Today Daily News

Marijuana Today Daily Headlines
Tuesday, March 16, 2021 | Curated by host Shea Gunther

// Arizona adult-use cannabis sales hit $2.9 million during initial 10 days (Marijuana Business Daily)

// New York Inches Closer To Legalization (Green Market Report)

// D.C. Psychedelics Decriminalization Initiative Officially Takes Effect (Marijuana Moment)


These headlines are brought to you by Agilent, a Fortune 500 company known for providing top-notch testing solutions to cannabis and hemp testing labs worldwide. Are you considering testing your cannabis in-house for potency? Agilent is giving away a FREE 1260 HPLC system for one year! If you are a Cultivator, processor, or cannabis testing lab you may qualify for this giveaway. Open up bitly.com/cannabis-contest to answer a few quick questions to enter to win!


// Dozens of adult-use cannabis shops coming soon to Portland (Portland Press Herald)

// Greenrose SPAC Buys Four Properties In $210 Million Move (Green Market Report)

// Vermont Would Decriminalize Drugs Under New Bill (Marijuana Moment)

// Cannabis Technology Platform dutchie Raises $200 Million and Acquires Greenbits and Leaf Logix (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Sundial to Contribute $100 Million to Cannabis Investment Joint Venture (New Cannabis Ventures)

// Senators deadlock over cannabis legalization as session nears end (Albuquerque Journal (AP))

// North Dakota Marijuana Legalization Bill Receives First Senate Committee Hearing Following House Passage (Marijuana Moment)

Check out our other projects:Marijuana Today— Our flagship title, a weekly podcast examining the world of marijuana business and activism with some of the smartest people in the industry and movement. • Marijuana Media Connect— A service that connects industry insiders in the legal marijuana industry with journalists, bloggers, and writers in need of expert sources for their stories.

Love these headlines? Love our podcast? Support our work with a financial contribution and become a patron.

Photo: Dorian Wallender/Flickr