A rewrite of Maine’s state legislation act may allow dispensaries and caregivers to sell recreational marijuana. The draft bill was released this week. Maine has only eight licensed medical marijuana dispensaries, but they may be able to jump into the recreational market.
If license applications are approved for dispensaries, recreational sales would have to take place at a different counter, according to Portland Press Herald. There would have to be separate entrances for medical marijuana patients and recreational marijuana customers if a dispensary is to carry a dual license. Caregivers will also be allowed to apply for recreational sales licenses.
For caregivers, they would also not be able to sell or use the same point of sale process for recreational sales as they currently use for medical marijuana sales.
As far as taxing is concerned – recreational sales would be taxed at 20-percent while medical marijuana purchases would be taxed at 5.5-percent.
Senator Roger Katz said, “We’ve got a lot of work to do yet on this bill. We’ve worked on it for months, but it’s a rough draft. There’s still a lot of unanswered questions that we have to work out. Some of those questions, we’re looking to the public for answers. We want to hear what they have to say. I’m sure it will be a vibrant discussion.”
The draft bill will be heard during a public hearing on September 26. Two more meetings before the hearing are planned to discuss the bill, as well as allow for public comment prior to submittal to the full Maine Legislature. In October, there will be a one-day special session specifically to decide on this draft bill.
Maine lawmakers stress that recreational and medical marijuana sales must be kept separate and must be run separately.
Caregivers worry that the new bill would put smaller scale caregivers out of business.
Paul McCarrier of Legalize Maine said, “It’s a very sweet deal for dispensaries. It hurts patients by restricting them to 12 plants on a property, a big burden for families trying to take care of each other. It eliminates the cultivation cap, which would allow for market saturation and a severe price drop that would favor those with deep pockets, like the dispensaries. There’s not a lot for the little guy.”
Dispensaries aren’t happy with some of the new legislation. They wanted to have first crack at recreational licenses since they’re already up-and-running and are in compliance with state law. They’ve proven that they can operate successfully. The draft bill, however, doesn’t allow dispensaries to begin early sales.
If medical marijuana dispensaries want to hold dual license or convert to recreational sales only, the draft bill would allow them to convert from non-profit to for-profit.
Regarding that, Senator Katz said, “There’s nothing in the bill as it’s written that prevents a nonprofit dispensary from getting an adult-use license, so I don’t see why we would be interested in wading into those waters. To me, that is clearly a medical marijuana issue, and that’s outside of our charge. Our task was the ‘rec’ side. If another committee wants to make that change, that’s fine, but I don’t think it should be us.”
There are several questions still looming, especially when it comes to dispensaries holding dual license. The upcoming special meetings, public hearing and special session are all in line to answer those questions, provide clarity and make concrete provisions to move forward with implementing recreational marijuana regulation on time.