Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth onto this state…. legal weed. But, where is it? Our visions of Wake’n’Bake-ationland have been mired in red-tape and bureaucracy for what seems like an eternity. With the current COVID-19 pandemic, we all knew another delay was coming. But, how did we even get to this point?
Voters in Maine approved recreational marijuana in 2016, but have yet to see their hopes and dreams come to fruition. Until 2018 the state was facing a less than cannabis friendly Governor: rejecting proposals from the senate to implement the voters bill. Two years later we are still patiently waiting...
Out of state investors have been arguing and lobbying for changes, and continued regulation, resulting in little to no progress. Many Mainers have expressed their frustration with the delays; roadblocks continue to appear to appease a vast number of these investors. By delaying the implementation of regulation, out-of-state investors are given the time and opportunity to meet residency requirements needed for application submission.
Earlier this year during an online course presented by the Maine BAR Association, the Office of Marijuana Policy reviewed expectations and regulations with a hopeful outlook of implementation come springtime. However, the extent of their preparation hinted at a completely different story. With four years having passed just to get to this point, it is only logical to question their lack of concrete and multi-faceted plans. Throughout the several hour course, attorneys and the Office of Marijuana Policy hashed out conversations with contention from both sides. Definitions, client protection, opt in and out policies, enforcement and locations were all topics of concern. Looming throughout the meeting was hints towards the absolute lack of a grasp in solidifying regulations that we absolutely need.
With seed to sale tracking once-again moved towards the back burner, and voters becoming more and more restless as they watch OMP continuing to drag feet and flounder on the issue, the question becomes: when is enough really enough? How much longer will the people of Maine stand for the delays, implications and bureaucracy? Our state—just like our local governments, is all about the money. Pay to play, or don’t play at all.
A recent update from the state Office of Marijuana Policy publicized that nearly two-hundred applications have been received so far (for recreational/adult use cannabis businesses), wherein only about eighty of those were sufficiently completed for regulatory review. However, with no return to “normal” business in sight, where does that leave the consumer? Stranded; up the creek without a paddle.
A newfound focus on curbing black market business in combination with increased cannabis-law-enforcement has caused widespread uproar within the state. State attempts to pledge an additional $600,000 to Maine-DEA agents have resulted in passionate pushback from the cannabis community. Why are they adding enforcement to a bill they haven’t even fully passed yet? This becomes increasingly frustrating when considering the overwhelming success of our long standing medical marijuana program... Simply put, the Maine state government blatantly has no idea what they’re doing.
So, where does this leave Mainers?
Erik Gundersen, the director of the Maine Office of Marijuana Policy stated, “We are simply unable to provide any concrete timelines in these uncertain times,” …isn’t that just the whole story of legal cannabis in Maine. We’re in it for the long haul folks.
Maine Potcast Contributor