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Policy Recommendations Maine
2019-2020 Improvements and Recommendations for Maine
Maine's medical cannabis program saw patient enrollment increase over the past year from 45,940 in 2019 to 65,368 in 202023. At 4.86%, Maine has the largest per capita representation of patients among the states which have legalized cannabis for adult-use. Maine's preservation and expansion of the medical cannabis program after the legalization of adult-use is noteworthy, as states who organize medical cannabis programs often fail to make those programs fully functional to appropriately serve patients before pivoting to address adult-use measures.
2020 saw Maine open its adult-use program, with the first licensed dispensary conducting sales operations in July. COVID is expected to slow the rollout of adult-use dispensary licensing, as are local control laws that prevent qualified cannabis businesses from securing a license without local approval. Currently fewer than 10% of the state's approximately 500 local governments have authorized cannabis retail licensing regimes.24
Under COVID Maine declared cannabis businesses essential and is allowing for telehealth visits to determine patient program eligibility. ASA recommends that Maine extend cannabis-related COVID emergency measures to permit curbside pickup and delivery, and consider making these program enhancements permanent to expand medical access, reduce cost burdens, and keep patients safe.
As Maine lawmakers look to 2021, ASA also encourages a focus on improvements in product safety standards and operating procedures. Proposals to test for potency, mold, as well as screening for pesticides, residual solvents, and other harmful chemicals like lead or mercury have been proposed in Augusta, but the regulations have yet to be finalized.