Those overseeing Maine’s medical marijuana program seek to regulate and license companies that use gases and explosive chemicals for the purpose of making concentrates. For patients that do not use smokeable forms of medical marijuana, this would allow them to legally purchase edibles, tinctures and other concentrates from dispensaries. Currently patients must make their own extractions, obtain them from their caregivers or shop at a dispensary that makes their own concentrates.
The Health and Human Services Committee endorsed legislation that would allow processors to become licensed to create extractions and concentrates, Portland Press Herald reports. Under the proposed legislation, those wishing to operate a lab would be required to apply for a manufacturing license. They would also have to obtain safety and equipment certifications from an engineer licensed by the state.
Joel Pepin of SJR Labs said, “If we do nothing, patient access will be horribly affected, jobs will be lost and small businesses will suffer. In any maturing industry, it’s very common to witness divisions of labor within the industry. That’s what us processors…are – a niche service provider offering a service that a single caregiver would never be able to provide for themselves.”
Two licenses would be available, for those wishing to process as much as 40-pounds at once and those wanting to process up to 200-pounds at a time. The fee for either license would be just $300. The committee opted for the low fee due to the cost of the certifications for the processing companies.
Maine has 600 licensed engineers. The cost would be about $2,500 plus the cost of travel, according to engineer Chris Witherell. Equipment manufacturers would pay the engineers to certify the safety and quality of the equipment.
Caregiver Dawson Julia said, “Getting an engineer to sign off on your extraction setup is going to be too expensive for a lot of the small businesses. I think it should be enough to get a municipal fire department or state fire marshal’s OK. That’s how they do it with autobody mechanics. They use oxygen gases that are very explosive and could take down a neighborhood. We should be treated the same.”
The legislation permits processing labs to remain operational while regulations are setup.
Senator Brakey said, “The whole point of this bill was to make sure the extraction labs in operation now can keep going, so long as they’re doing what they do safely. I’ve toured some of them, and I know the great lengths they’ve gone to in order to try to stay safe and to stay within the confines of a medical marijuana law that has not kept up with the growth of this industry. Don’t forget, this is an industry trying to help people. We should try to help them do that.”
The bill does not include language that caps the number of manufacturers or processors in the state. Restrictions on who can become licensed are also not included. The state would be responsible for putting these rules and regulations in place. Some amendments are being made to the legislation before it is presented to the Senate.