Members of Maine’s medical marijuana industry pushed back Wednesday against a series of proposed regulations that they said are just a shorter version of rules they successfully fought off last year.

The rules most recently proposed by the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy include product-tracking and other security requirements that industry members had already condemned as labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive the last time they were proposed. Last year’s controversial rules were ultimately halted by the Maine Legislature.

Industry participants told officials in a public hearing on Wednesday that while some of the new rules are an improvement, the new proposal was still overreaching and overly burdensome.

In January 2021, the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy released a preliminary draft of rule changes to the medical program that officials said were “meant to align the program with state law.”

Among other proposed changes such as strict security and surveillance measures, the now-dead proposal would have required all registered medical cannabis caregivers, dispensaries and manufacturing facilities to implement a “seed-to-sale” product tracking system called Metrc, currently used in Maine’s adult-use cannabis program. Its purpose is keep illicit products out of the legal market, and legal products from ending up on the black market.

Industry members had hoped that the revised version would not contain such mandates.


The new proposal is an improvement from the one brought forward last year, said Susan Meehan, chair of the Maine Cannabis Coalition.

Still, Meehan said some aspects of what’s on offer “continue to demonize the plant.”

Eben Sumner, legislative chair of the Maine Growers Alliance, agreed. The new set of proposed rules may be shorter than the last, he said, but it’s “not short on overreaching or overburdensome regulations.”

“I’m looking forward to a day when our industry is not stifled from a negative, antiquated framework stemming from the war on drugs,” Sumner said.


The track-and-trace requirement was the most controversial of the previously proposed rules, and while the new proposal wouldn’t require it, providers and consumers said it might as well.


The new would-be rules include stricter requirements for record-keeping and inventory control. Detailed sales records, inventory data and customer transaction logs would need to be maintained in a digital format, available to regulators upon request.

“(It’s) recreating Metrc on paper,” Meehan said.

Another point of contention was the inclusion of more physical security requirements to prevent theft.

Every storefront, manufacturer, grower and testing facility would be required to have an alarm and video surveillance system that meets certain specifications. Surveillance footage and data would need to be stored for at least 45 days.

Several cannabis providers argued that security systems should be an individual business decision, not an industrywide mandate.

The new requirements would add significant expense to small, independent providers, known in the industry as caregivers, said registered caregiver Tammy Smith. That means higher prices, which could make some customers decide to migrate to the illicit market.


Other proposed rules were met with pushback from members of the industry, including certain packaging requirements, site limits and labeling rules. One such rule would require dosage information to be listed on all marijuana edibles, which the industry members decried as a hidden testing requirement.

Caregiver Steven Robinson said it seemed like the rules would be pointless, expensive and time-intensive.

“As a small business (owner), your time is all you have,” he said. “… It if ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


Following the outcry over last year’s proposal, industry members brought the issue to the Legislature, which passed a law overhauling the medical marijuana rulemaking process and halting implementation of the then-proposed rules. The law required the office to form a working group and to consult caregivers, patients, physicians and medical professionals with experience in the industry before making major changes to the state’s medical marijuana program. 

The 17-member group, which convened in the fall, was headed by the policy office and tasked with developing steps to help streamline the licensing and compliance process “to ensure the medical-use program is fulfilling the hallmarks of a regulated industry.”

But working group members on Wednesday said the process was not what they were told it would be. 

Meetings included discussion of broad changes the members would like to see within the program, but they were never allowed to see the proposed rules before they were released. Instead, working group members found out about them at the same time as the public. 

Other medical industry participants complained that many of the working group’s members also had ties to the adult-use market, which many view as a competing industry. Some suggested convening a new group with members solely in the medical program.

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