Members of Maine’s medical marijuana trade pushed again Wednesday in opposition to a sequence of proposed laws that they stated are only a shorter model of guidelines they efficiently fought off final yr.
The foundations most just lately proposed by the Maine Workplace of Marijuana Coverage embrace product-tracking and different safety necessities that trade members had already condemned as labor-intensive and cost-prohibitive the final time they have been proposed. Final yr’s controversial guidelines have been in the end halted by the Maine Legislature.
Trade contributors informed officers in a public listening to on Wednesday that whereas a few of the new guidelines are an enchancment, the brand new proposal was nonetheless overreaching and overly burdensome.
In January 2021, the Maine Workplace of Marijuana Coverage launched a preliminary draft of rule adjustments to the medical program that officers stated have been “meant to align this system with state regulation.”
Amongst different proposed adjustments akin to strict safety and surveillance measures, the now-dead proposal would have required all registered medical hashish caregivers, dispensaries and manufacturing amenities to implement a “seed-to-sale” product monitoring system known as Metrc, at present utilized in Maine’s adult-use hashish program. Its function is preserve illicit merchandise out of the authorized market, and authorized merchandise from ending up on the black market.
Trade members had hoped that the revised model wouldn’t comprise such mandates.
The brand new proposal is an enchancment from the one introduced ahead final yr, stated Susan Meehan, chair of the Maine Hashish Coalition.
Nonetheless, Meehan stated some elements of what’s on supply “proceed to demonize the plant.”
Eben Sumner, legislative chair of the Maine Growers Alliance, agreed. The brand new set of proposed guidelines could also be shorter than the final, he stated, but it surely’s “not brief on overreaching or overburdensome laws.”
“I’m trying ahead to a day when our trade is just not stifled from a adverse, antiquated framework stemming from the warfare on medication,” Sumner stated.
‘IF IT AIN’T BROKE’
The track-and-trace requirement was essentially the most controversial of the beforehand proposed guidelines, and whereas the brand new proposal wouldn’t require it, suppliers and customers stated it’d as properly.
The brand new would-be guidelines embrace stricter necessities for record-keeping and stock management. Detailed gross sales information, stock information and buyer transaction logs would must be maintained in a digital format, obtainable to regulators upon request.
“(It’s) recreating Metrc on paper,” Meehan stated.
One other level of competition was the inclusion of extra bodily safety necessities to forestall theft.
Each storefront, producer, grower and testing facility could be required to have an alarm and video surveillance system that meets sure specs. Surveillance footage and information would must be saved for a minimum of 45 days.
A number of hashish suppliers argued that safety programs must be a person enterprise resolution, not an industrywide mandate.
The brand new necessities would add vital expense to small, unbiased suppliers, identified within the trade as caregivers, stated registered caregiver Tammy Smith. Which means greater costs, which might make some clients determine emigrate to the illicit market.
Different proposed guidelines have been met with pushback from members of the trade, together with sure packaging necessities, web site limits and labeling guidelines. One such rule would require dosage info to be listed on all marijuana edibles, which the trade members decried as a hidden testing requirement.
Caregiver Steven Robinson stated it appeared like the foundations could be pointless, costly and time-intensive.
“As a small enterprise (proprietor), your time is all you have got,” he stated. “… It if ain’t broke, don’t repair it.”
GROUP CRITICIZES PROCESS
Following the outcry over final yr’s proposal, trade members introduced the difficulty to the Legislature, which passed a law overhauling the medical marijuana rulemaking course of and halting implementation of the then-proposed guidelines. The regulation required the workplace to type a working group and to seek the advice of caregivers, sufferers, physicians and medical professionals with expertise within the trade earlier than making main adjustments to the state’s medical marijuana program.
The 17-member group, which convened within the fall, was headed by the coverage workplace and tasked with creating steps to assist streamline the licensing and compliance course of “to make sure the medical-use program is fulfilling the hallmarks of a regulated trade.”
However working group members on Wednesday stated the method was not what they have been informed it could be.
Conferences included dialogue of broad adjustments the members wish to see inside the program, however they have been by no means allowed to see the proposed guidelines earlier than they have been launched. As an alternative, working group members came upon about them concurrently the general public.
Different medical trade contributors complained that lots of the working group’s members additionally had ties to the adult-use market, which many view as a competing trade. Some urged convening a brand new group with members solely within the medical program.
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